A settlement has been reached between the producers of “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” and its fired director, Julie Taymor, ending a bitter legal fight over what has become Broadway’s most expensive show.
“All claims between all of the parties in the litigation have been resolved,” both sides said in a statement Wednesday. No details about the settlement or how it was reached were immediately revealed.
Taymor, who was the original “Spider-Man” director and co-book writer, was fired after years of delays, accidents and critical backlash to a show whose $75 million price tag ballooned to make it the most expensive in Broadway history.
The show, which features music by U2’s Bono and The Edge, opened in November 2010, but spent months in previews and retooling before officially opening a few days after the Tony Awards in June 2011. It has since become a financial hit at the box office.
In November 2011, Taymor slapped the producers — led by Michael Cohl and Jeremiah J. Harris — as well as Glen Berger, her former co-book writer, with a federal copyright infringement lawsuit, alleging they violated her creative rights and hadn’t compensated her for the work she put into the show. The producers’ filed a counterclaim asserting the copyright claims were baseless.
“We’re happy to put all this behind us,” said a statement by Cohl and Harris. For her part, Taymor was quoted in the release as saying: “I’m pleased to have reached an agreement and hope for the continued success of `Spider-Man,’ both on Broadway and beyond.”
Messages left for lawyers on both side were not immediately returned.
Taymor’s lawsuit sought half of all profits derived from the sale, license, transfer or lease of any rights in the original “Spider-Man” book along with a permanent ban of the use of her name or likeness in connection with a documentary film that was made of the birth of the musical without her written consent.
It also sought a jury trial to determine her share of profits from the unauthorized use of her version of the superhero story, which it said was believed to be in excess of $1 million.
Manhattan federal Judge Katherine Forrest had set a May 27 trial date after lawyers for Taymor asked that the case move forward because a settlement was never finalized. But that looming legal showdown is now off.
The legal wrangling revealed a behind-the-scenes atmosphere that was secretive and slightly paranoid. Taymor alleged that Berger was told to quietly work on changes to the story without Taymor’s knowledge — called “Plan X” — that in an email Berger complained led him to lead a “double life,” both working with and against Taymor.
On Wednesday, Berger said in a statement: “I am very glad the parties have put the claims behind them. I look forward to seeing fruitful work from all those involved.”
The stunt-heavy show has done brisk business ever since it opened its doors and most weeks easily grosses more than the $1.2 million the producers have indicated they need to reach to stay viable and pay off debts.
After Taymor left, writer Roberto Aguirre-Sacasa, director Philip William McKinley and choreographer Chase Brock cleaned up a story that had wandered into darker and mythological themes, while Bono and The Edge reworked the songs. More flying stunts were added and the romance between Peter Parker and Mary Jane returned to center stage.
Four comic-book fans who framed the plot and represented Taymor, Bono, The Edge and Berger — were cut. The role of a villainous spider-woman named Arachne was scaled back and the Green Goblin’s role was enhanced.
Taymor had alleged that the show hadn’t been re-imagined after her firing and that what audiences are seeing at the Foxwoods Theatre is essentially the same show she directed.
On opening night, Taymor received a standing ovation and kisses from cast members, as well as from Bono and The Edge. The three were all smiles and posed for pictures together on the red carpet.