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Broadway: $75 Mil “Spider Man” Box Office Fade As New Shows Arrive

Is it curtains for “Spider Man” on Broadway? Not yet, but things are looking a little scary for Peter Parker and Mary Jane. For the last several weeks, the Broadway box office for “Spider Man: Turn off the Dark” has been in slow decline. This past week the show’s gross was a little over $1 million– and that’s the way it’s been recently. Compare this week to four weeks ago, and the number is trending down by the tens of thousands.

But that’s not good news. “Spider Man,” as we all know, cost $75 million. Its official opening was June 14, 2011–not quite two years ago. And that was after previews started in November 2010. The show had several missed openings, and even shut down for three weeks in May 2011 while it was retooled.

Initially, the Julie Taymor show with songs by Bono and The Edge was taking in $1.5 to $1.7 million. All the heralded accidents in the theater drew curiosity seekers The flying and the costumes were also draws, especially for tourists who enjoyed the action and didn’t read the bad reviews.

Even that has petered out, apparently. “Spider Man” used to be the new kid on the block. But this past week it finished 9th of all Broadway shows, including the play “Lucky Guy” with Tom Hanks.

New musicals like “Kinky Boots,” “Matilda,” “Motown,” and the revived “Pippin” are now out drawing “Spider Man.” Then there are the standbys have built return audiences into their draws, like “The Book of Mormon,” “Wicked,” “The Lion King,” “Mamma Mia,” and “Jersey Boys.”

It’s not only the totals at the box office that look worrisome for “Spider Man.” The show is only playing at around 72% capacity. The average ticket price is $89 which means it can be found at TKTS on discount.  Even an enjoyable, middling show like “Newsies” filled 98% of its seats last week. “Chicago” somehow did 89.2%.

And then of course there are ancillary issues. There’s still no “Spider Man” national tour. There’s no spin off show in Las Vegas. No doubt the idea of starting anew somewhere else, and having new accidents etc, is keeping the show from expanding. But you can already imagine “Kinky Boots” in other cities. “Spider Man”? Not so easy to get all those hydraulics working elsewhere.

This summer will really tell the tale of “Spider Man.” If tourist audiences don’t fill up the Foxwoods Theater, the Green Goblin may be the least of this super hero’s problems.