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Will Spiderman’s bad reviews matter, or has the superhero already caught audiences in his web?

Earlier this week, the New York Theatre Critics broke with long standing tradition and reviewed a show while it is still in Previews.  The mostly bad reviews of “Spiderman: Turn Off The Dark” came out the day after one of the oft-rescheduled opening dates.  Clearly the critics have had enough, figuring (I think correctly), that when a show is running for week upon week, selling out the so-called “preview” performances at full ticket prices averaging over $100, the show is as good as open, and should be reviewed as a service to the public.

Historically, when shows have opened to bad reviews, they've frequently closed quickly, especially where  advance ticket sales  have suffered as a result.  But here, Spiderman has strong advance ticket sales, which begs the question:  “Do reviews matter anymore?”

Personally, I think that hype and advertising will keep Spiderman going for a good long while. Besides, I'm still not convinced that Spiderman is ever really expected to recoup its record-setting $65 Million capitalization. (As I've previously written, I think the Broadway show may be as much about brand maintenance for the comic-book and movie properties, as about profit)

What do you think? Will ticket sales now plunge like an improperly tethered actor falling to catastrophic injury? Post your opinions in the comments on the website.

P.S.  My favorite line from Benjamin Brantley's review is:  “How can $65 Million look so cheap?”

2 Responses to Will Spiderman’s bad reviews matter, or has the superhero already caught audiences in his web?

  1. Having seen the production two weeks ago, I can only say that the critics are right (especially the review at the Washington Post). And I was among the few who really wanted Spiderman to succeed.

    In my view, hype is about the only thing keeping Spiderman alive NOW. It can probably survive these recent lackluster reviews, simply because it still is viewed as a production offering something unique and perhaps “dangerous”. But I suspect those factors can only extend its life for only a few months — maybe less than that if the (lackluster, hit-less) soundtrack is released.

    Eventually, as the hype and pre-occupation about technical malfunctions die down, and it becomes the show that its producers envisioned, word of mouth will kill it.

    My prediction (assuming a March opening): A closing in mid-August.

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