Spider-Man’s Ongoing Legal Woes

by Flickr user wynlok

Popular sites around the country went dark yesterday in protest of the pending SOPA/PIPA copyright bills — and you might think I’d write about that. But nah. Let’s talk about the ongoing saga of the musical Spider-Man Turn Off the Dark instead.

The musical began as a collaboration between Bono and The Edge from U2 and director/writer Julie Taymor (most famous for directing the stage version of The Lion King). Stories quickly began to emerge about trouble. Cast members were seriously injured, others quit before the show even opened.  The preview period (full, live performances during which the show may still be tweaked before it officially opens) was extended again and again. Comic book aficionados said the script bore little resemblance to the original story. OSHA issued safety violations. In an unprecedented move, theatre critics began to review the show before it opened. It was infamous and massively in debt. And one day, Taymor was fired.

With new writers and a new director, the show officially opened in June 2011 and has been doing steady business ever since. Over New Year’s it set a record as the highest-grossing Broadway production in history, raking in $2,941,794 in a week (nine performances). You’d think that producers would be doing the dance of joy. But no. They’re locked in a legal battle with Taymor.

Taymor filed suit against the show’s producers in November (Taymor et al. v. 8 Legged Productions, LLC et al.). She is suing for “willful copyright infringement and breaches of contract arising from their unauthorized and unlawful use of Taymor’s copyrighted written works in the current hit Broadway musical[.]” Just the other day, the producers counter-sued saying “Taymor refused to develop a musical that followed the original, family-friendly ‘Spider-Man’ story, which was depicted in the Marvel comic books and the hugely successful  motion picture trilogy based on them. Instead, Taymor, who admits that she was not a fan of the Spider-Man story prior to her involvement with the Musical, insisted on developing a dark, disjointed and hallucinogenic musical involving suicide, sex and death.” Ouch.

You can follow the suit and find the original complaint, answer and other documents on Bloomberg Law. (If you don’t have a login yet, see a Reference Librarian).

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