Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark – Flopocalypse Now [The Ryan Dixon Line]

Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark has yet to kill anyone, but could it end up murdering the Broadway Flop?

No show in Broadway history has ever battled through such a dizzying array of troubles as Spider-Man: Turn Off Dark. The buzz hasn’t just been bad, it’s been genocidal.  And like the war in Afghanistan or The Passion of the Charlie Sheen, there seems to be no end in sight. This week brought news that director Julie Taymor has been fired/quit the production and the supposedly really, really, real opening date of March 15th has just gone the way of the dodo.

Yet the production continues to perform gravity-defying feats of box office wonderment. The producers love the free publicity. Critics are having adjective orgasms crafting witty, bitchy prose. Federal, state and local authorities are only too happy to enlist the show’s help in fixing historic deficits by fining it for countless safety violations. And the suddenly contract-endangered Glenn Beck is relieved to pontificate on a subject that doesn’t involve eschatology. Everyone, it seems, is happy to have Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark in their life.

The only people who shouldn’t be happy are theatre fans. Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark may not be the catalyst for one of Beck’s certain-to-arrive-any-minute-now apocalypses, but it very well could be the canary in the coalmine for an even more tragic End Time: The Death of The Broadway Flop.

Devotees of film, literature and music rarely focus their café conversations on the Cutthroat Islands, Ancient Evenings, and Garth Brooks in the Life of Chris Gaineses of the canon.  But if you love theatre, it’s a given that at some point in the last month you’ve incanted “Carrie: The Musical,” “Moose Murders” or “Dance of the Vampires” in the hushed, haunted tone straight out of Celebrity Ghost Stories.

No other medium celebrates incompetence and abject failure like Broadway (it’s only appropriate that the most honored musical in history is The Producers) and it’s pretty obvious why: The legendary Broadway flops are the cicadas of the stage. “Being there” is what makes theatre unique and those lucky few who get to take part in the once-in-a-generation occurrence of a legendary Broadway flop are members of a most elite club.

At least that’s the way it was until a certain web-slinging superhero made his way to 42nd street. In any other decade Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark would have been a stage-bound Hindenburg– a monolithic, ill-gotten creation that went up in flames, killing the careers of all those involved. But $65 million is just too much money to lose and the producers have been engaging audiences in a cunning con worthy of Max Bialystock himself.

The scent of Spider-Man’s blood has been in the air for over a year and theatre fanatics, famished like a legion of the freshly undead, are dying to bite into a bloody, fleshy flop. And the producers, despite statements to the contrary, are only too willing to serve it up raw.  They know that the majority of butts currently filling the seats of the Foxwoods Theater are not there because of the brand or the band (sorry U2, but it’s true). In our world of INSERT HOT NEW SOCIAL MEDIA APP HERE, bad buzz can no longer be hidden away in the gossip pages of Variety, The New York Post or in the back booths at Sardi’s. News (especially the bad kind) takes viral hold of our culture with more force than the 1918 flu pandemic. Thanks to this publicity inferno, not even a thirty-three-car pileup on the 405 has had as much rubbernecking as Spider-Man.

Future producers take note: Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark is the Rosetta Stone for polishing turds. It’s simple really, take the money any way you can get it. Fuel the bad buzz, extend previews indefinitely– the more changes that are made, the more the opening can be delayed, the more people who will come wanting to be part of Broadway infamy. Never open so you don’t have to close.

Like almost everything else in Times Square, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark is now nothing more than just another themed attraction; a pitch-perfect recreation of a Broadway flop that anyone can see.

Want to experience something that is definitely NOT a flop? Then please purchase a copy of my graphic novel,  Hell House: The Awakening. After that, why don’t you just go ahead and follow me on Twitter to ensure that you never miss a single one of my thoughts.

featured image credit: istolethetv