There's No Such Thing As Bad Publicity: Just Ask Spider-Man

Don't look now, but the year's most maligned musical is doing well at the box office

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We wouldn't recommend spending $75 million, getting investigated by the New York Board of Labor over unsafe working conditions and ousting your director late in production as the best strategy to find success on Broadway, but it certainly seems to have worked for Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark. The oodles of worldwide publicity over the troubled production has piqued enough interest, it appears, to lure in curiosity-seeking tourists to fork over for tickets.

Variety reports the show grossed $1,702,866 last week, "a stellar $430,000 (or 34%) bump up" from the previous week's earnings. That's less than Wicked ($1.83 million) and The Lion King ($1.79 million), but more than critical and audience sweetheart The Book of Mormon ($1.22 million). More importantly, it pushes the weekly take past the $1.7 million-a-week  mark that Patrick Healy of the New York Times says is needed for investors to start seeing a return on their investment.

It's not enough to dig it out of the $75 million production deficit it's already in; the show has to sustain that momentum going forward to pay off. But it means that at least the show isn't losing money anymore. Producers told Healy that grosses $1.2 million would "roughly enough to cover weekly running costs" and the Associated Press notes the show is still earning below its $1.9 potential at the 1821-seat Foxwoods Theatre. (By way of comparison, Book of Mormon's $1.22 million week set new a house record for the 1065-seat Eugene O'Neill Theater.)

Variety wonders "whether the show can continue to post those major numbers after the summer, when tourist biz dries up," but it's worth noting that by that point, the holiday crush will be just around the corner. Until then, they can just wait for something to go wrong and for the New York Post to write about it. It worked before, and it should work again.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.