December 7th, 2010
09:35 AM ET

'Spider-Man' director brushes off bad press

Director Julie Taymor is rushing to the defense of Spider-Man.

Though the musical "Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark" has made headlines for its technical glitches, confusing plot, and numerous on-set injuries, Taymor isn't getting caught up in the web of negative press.

"It takes awhile to figure out all the things that could go wrong," she told CNN last night at the L.A. premiere of her new movie "The Tempest."

Since "Spider-Man" opened in previews on Broadway last week, several of the show's high-flying stars have gotten stranded in mid-air on cables during the performance, and actress Natalie Mendoza suffered a concussion after being hit in the head by a rope holding equipment.

"You’re supposed to get a few weeks to tweak things," added Taymor of the $65 million superhero spectacle, which is currently playing at the Foxwoods Theatre in New York City. "Our presales aren’t bad and we get standing ovations. I don’t like it [the media attention about it], but it’s not bad for box office.”

soundoff (29 Responses)
  1. John

    This is one of the stupidest things I've ever heard of.Nuff said!

    December 8, 2010 at 10:36 am | Report abuse |
  2. einstein44

    THE PRODUCERS should have used this show to defraud the old ladies. I saw the show and it's obvious that even $65 million can't buy entertainment.

    December 8, 2010 at 3:30 am | Report abuse |
  3. EQ

    I saw the second preview and really enjoyed it. There were flaws – sure, but this is a PREVIEW and the show is truly a new experience on Broadway. I say Brilliant!
    But... I agree with the comment "cut (or reduce) the geeks" and the music drones on. I did LOVE the military number.

    December 7, 2010 at 10:44 pm | Report abuse |
  4. MS


    December 7, 2010 at 8:41 pm | Report abuse |
  5. True Story

    A quick glance at the website and you can see the show isn't about the production or the story of Spiderman.. Its about Julie Taymor and the 2 morons from U2 that put their name on this. Look she did good work with the Lion King, without question it really was a good show. But she's freaking dumber than a box of rocks when it comes to comic book icons and she just killed Spiderman.

    December 7, 2010 at 5:23 pm | Report abuse |
  6. Les

    You know, the story behind this debacle would make a great show! Imagine a group of stage hands pulling on ropes while they dance and sing about the star being stuck. Think of the mob scene of defrauded investors mobbing the producer team that came up with this turkey to begin with. Imagine the director's breakdown as the eleven p.m. number. Seriously, the show behind this show is better material for a musical than the misery seen on the stage.

    December 7, 2010 at 5:16 pm | Report abuse |
  7. the_dude

    I think a more entertaining show would be to have lady gaga explain how she tucks her sack back and hides her adams apple.

    December 7, 2010 at 4:30 pm | Report abuse |
  8. hecep

    This is exactly why remakes are done; lousey new ideas. Bring back Showboat!!

    December 7, 2010 at 3:07 pm | Report abuse |
  9. Tully

    It looks like the show producers have a lot to fix. Very entertaining critique by YBP, I could visualize the show in front of my eyes and ...above my head! If the audience doesn't remember a tune from a Broadway show then $65 million is probably a huge waste.

    December 7, 2010 at 1:34 pm | Report abuse |
  10. Cathy

    I saw the Sunday, December 5 preview with an 11-year-old. We both LOVED it! I expected a more exciting finish though!

    December 7, 2010 at 12:42 pm | Report abuse |
  11. Ivan Bial

    Sorry "Julie Taymor" the first half is so good you hate when the curtin comes down, the second hald is so slow and awfull you can't wait for the curtin to come down.

    Julie if you can't fix the second half, it will close in a few months if not weeks.

    December 7, 2010 at 12:30 pm | Report abuse |
  12. Golden Goose

    You definitely have to check your brain at the door for this one.

    December 7, 2010 at 12:28 pm | Report abuse |
  13. Cieje Valentine

    I wonder how Stan Lee feels about this..?

    December 7, 2010 at 11:44 am | Report abuse |
  14. YBP

    Ms. Taymor, you had better brace yourself! Technical diffciulties are expected during previews and are forgiven by most regular theater-goers. But that aside, this show is a total travesty. The critics are going to be rabid and foaming at the mouth, and here's only some of the reasons why: confusing plot (if you can even call it a plot...what happened to the "with great power comes great responsibility" theme that should be running throughout the entire story? Have you ever even heard of Spider-man? His story has a number of recurring themes.), boring, relentless, monotonous music (not even close to what anyone would describe as a Broadway everyone sings in a nasal whine like Bono, which makes no sense...imagine if Elvis had written the score and the entire cast felt that they had to imitate him?), cardboard cut-outs and cardboard characters (literally and figuretively...there is no character development, no relationships that make sense, no empathy from the audience...again, have you ever even flipped through a Spider-Man comic book?), the blow-up balloon wrestling character (Really? That is one of the more insulting gimmicks), hideous-looking papier mache characters, distracting set pieces (many of which appear to be drawn by a skilled and imaginitive 10-year-old), annoying "geek" characters (who inexplicably-but-thankfully get written out of the second Act and are never heard from you understand structure? Or the basic mechanics of writing a story for the stage?), and the eight-legged female chorus and spider-villianess that have nothing to do with Spider-Man comics or legends – but for some reason (perhaps because they are Julie Taymor creations) are the focal point of this particular "retelling" of the story (Their song and dance number about shoes (!) was also insulting). And then there is the flying. The audence will be dazzled as Spiderman swings up from the stage to the first and second balconies. They will also be distracted and terrified by the technical contraptions that allow for this, which are in full view and equally interesting to watch. And when Spider-Man and the Green Goblin start swinging around together, the audience will be too busy trying to figure out how the ropes are going to manage to criss-cross each other over their heads without something terribly tragic happening. This show doesn't know if it wants to be dark, funny, scarey, artsy, realistic...I am not even going to comment on the parade of villians taking part in a Fashion, add allegorical (I guess) to the list. What does it want to be? The audience is not supposed to laugh when the radio-active spider bites Peter Parker. But they do. Because it looks ridiculous. Spider-Man should probably have been a Cirque show. The Cirque group knows how to do spectacle and flying and stage fighting and design and music. Your Team does not. Spider-Man will need more than just a few re-writes to fix it. It needs an entirely new script, score, set and costume design. And obviously a new technical design. And, please, have some mercy on those two guitarists who are stuck there on the edge of the stage (the only two musicians in view of the audience) for the entire performance (for no apparent reason). They are, after all, the accompaniment, and should be masked along with the rest of the orchestra. This show doesn't need any more distractions! And it isn't as if these boys have any stage presence whatsoever. They look awkward and out of place and unhappy.

    December 7, 2010 at 11:24 am | Report abuse |
    • kd

      Great critique. I was going to say, better to go to a circus. Cheaper, too.

      December 7, 2010 at 11:37 am | Report abuse |
    • KB

      Amazing review, quite entertaining, thank you!

      December 7, 2010 at 12:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • seen it too

      I saw Saturday's preview show. I agree with almost all of this review. I liked the geek chorus. i thought they did a good job of narrating and providing what little strucutre to the plot exists. Also, the first act did a solid job of establishing the characters and the plot. It was the second act that needs to be completely rewritten. Oh, and the ending. Let's just say it's way to anticlimactic for Spiderman.

      December 7, 2010 at 12:17 pm | Report abuse |
    • will

      YBP, you must be proud to be a pimple on the ass of society. It is something to read a good or bad critique of a play or musical, and for that matter, a movie review, but to critique a preview or teaser or something yet to come, is like criticizing the preface of a novel, "This novel stinks." Give the highly acclaimed Broadway and motion picture director a break. If you think you can do better, and keep it under budget, and with all things considering, put your whine and cheese down, and go help her company, and make your parents proud. Plays don't need to follow the comic book bible, word by word, scene by scene, they just need to entertain the mind and keep the customer satisfied.

      December 7, 2010 at 1:41 pm | Report abuse |
    • NYC

      I saw the second preview. I agree with most of your review. The flying was spectacular but frightening, and the flyers looked very nervous and I couldn't blame them. CUT the geeks, the show came to a screeching halt every time they appeared to forward the messy plot. They were the worst thing about the show. CUT half the music. There was one nice ballad in Act 2, the orchestration is ok but the rest of the songs are unforgettable to downright unpleasant. CUT the female spider character. Give the bad guys more to do than just a fashion show. The Green Goblin is a hit and the others could add so much if their characters were developed (and that female spider is CUT). Also, there is no chemistry between Peter & Mary Jane. The actors looked bored with themselves, each other, and the entire evening. LOVED the costumes and puppets...keep them. LOVED the dancing spiders, didn't care if it had anything to do with Spiderman, it was entertaining. And yes, I laughed when the bouncing spider bit Peter. But I loved the blow-up wrestling guy. It was fun to have something very low tech mixed in with the very high tech elements. There is some good stuff there but a lot of bad needs to go in order to see it.

      December 7, 2010 at 1:43 pm | Report abuse |
    • taymor fan

      YBP, excellent overview (sadly). I am a huge fan of Julie Taymor – her work in translating "Lion King" to the state was nothing short of monumental. Her film "Across the Universe" – using all Beatles music to tell the story of the '60's, and a love story, and using mostly no name musicians to re-interpret every Beatles song, was nothing short of "there is no way in the world this should have worked, but it not only works, it is one of the great films of all time".

      Your comments on a confusing plot, or perhaps even a lack of plot altogether, are troubling. I can never understand why multi-million dollar movies, or Broadway productions, are green-lighted without a decent script. How much could some more sheaves of paper possibly cost!

      I'm going to see it... I hope somehow it magically transforms into a great Broadway achievement rather than just spectacle.

      December 7, 2010 at 3:47 pm | Report abuse |
    • YBP

      @ Will: I don't mind the name calling, but really this isn't about me. It's about this terrible flop-to-be called Spider-Man. And having seen (and actually enjoyed) such flops as Carrie, Cape-Man and Dracula, I know a flop when I see one. At least those other flops had material that could be shaped and honed. Spider-Man, as it is right now, falls short in the substance department...and the entertainment department...and the concept department. Not to mention the music and the design. It's going to be a historic flop. The press has thus far mostly been about the technical difficulties they're having, which is really only one (almost minor) aspect of the show. The content of the show is where the real shortcomings lie, and that is what I am addressing. Now since I am not Ms. Taymor's personal acquaintance, or a professional dramaturge, and since all the professional dramaturges have apparently been too busy for the past eight and a half years to come to her assistance, the only way for me to get this information to her is through these Comments. I hope she is reading this. All joking (and editorial remarks) aside, if Ms. Taymor would like to delay the opening of Spider-Man for another couple of months and fly me from Las Vegas to New York, then yes, I think I can fix it. I have written and directed some of my own work in the past...I am a rock-musical geek and a comic book geek...and I envisioned how a lot of the musical could be reworked while I was watching it. But I really don't foresee that happening. The show needs new staging, new scripting, and a couple of new songs from U2 that don't sound quite like the existing songs in the show. The critics are going to pounce on this show, but it has almost nothing to do with the special effects. Ms. Taymor: CNN has my e-mail address. Contact me.

      December 7, 2010 at 4:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Soup3161

      Of course, leave it to Julie Taymor to create two crap characters. One of them is a giant spider that, apparently, Spider-Man's whole universe revolves around. The other is a cross-dressing can opener. BOOOO.

      December 7, 2010 at 5:02 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jose

      Couldn't agrre more with your review. I saw the third preview, and it's interesting to see how people are trying to focus on the "technical problems" (and by the way, not being able to "hide" the people who throw smoke or carry the "Punched" students", are not technical problems, but basic Broadway issues...).
      However, as you mention, the real problem with this play is the non-existent story line, the terrible second act (it has to be the WORST second act in the history of Broadway), the geek charactes, Arachnia, etc, etc.
      With other great plays in Broadway, don't waste your mone on this show...

      December 7, 2010 at 5:07 pm | Report abuse |
    • Les

      Great Idea to make Spidey a Cirque show. Highly critical review but valid. Rock on.

      December 7, 2010 at 5:22 pm | Report abuse |
    • Jiggered

      Thoughtful and entertaining critique. I enjoyed it!

      December 7, 2010 at 5:24 pm | Report abuse |
  15. This is going to SUCK!

    Can't someone come up with something a little more original for a Broadway show than Spider man....geeze.

    December 7, 2010 at 11:12 am | Report abuse |
  16. Jen

    I know my kids are looking forward to the next Spiderman movie...but on stage sounds a little dangerous!!

    December 7, 2010 at 9:56 am | Report abuse |

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