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Spider-Man, the musical, sets sales record

Heidi Moore Jan 4, 2012

Tess Vigeland: Has there been a bigger, more spectacular Broadway failure in recent memory than “Spider-Man,” the musical? Before you answer, hear this: It just broke a record for highest revenue from ticket sales in a single week. The $75 million butt of brutal and nightly jokes on “Letterman” — not to mention bad reviews and injuries to cast members — turned its Spidey-sense into box office gold.

Our New York bureau chief Heidi Moore spins the tale.

HEIDI MOORE: “Spider-Man,” the musical, is a Broadway show. The tale of its survival could also be a Broadway show: after  injuries, infighting and reviewers’ insults, the tide turns. In a triumphant twist, the show set a Broadway record for the most ticket sales in a single week: $2.9 million.

Jere Harris, the veteran theater financier who co-produced it, is still searching for the words.

JERE HARRIS: Satisfied would not be the right word. We feel elated or we feel –maybe vindication is not right either, but we feel accomplishment.

In the story behind the musical, his antagonist would be Ben Brantley, the chief theater critic of the New York Times. Brantley once compared “Spider-Man,” the musical, to “watching the Hindenburg burn and crash.”

BEN BRANTLEY: I don’t think there’s been a case where a show was as savagely reviewed as “Spider-Man” was, where it went on to this kind of spectacular success.

Brantley attributes that to tourists, who are coming to New York in droves. Harris, the co-producer, calls it “creating a new audience.”  He points out that as many men as women buy tickets, which is rare on Broadway.

Still, “Spider-Man” would have to have about five years of record weeks to make up its costs. But the story of redemption may be priceless.

In New York, I’m Heidi Moore for Marketplace.

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