Julie Taymor is doing whatever a director can: staking her rightful artistic claims.
The helmer of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark, the critically maligned if profitable budget-busting Broadway musical that made headlines last year for a series of high-profile accidents, is suing the producers who booted her off the show.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the complaint filed in federal court in New York City claims that despite receiving an “original direction by” credit, Spider-Man‘s producers violated her rights by continuing to use her work in the $70 million spectacle without compensating her.
“As the lawsuit filed today makes clear, the defendants have violated Ms. Taymor’s creative rights as an author of Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark,” Taymor’s attorney, Charles Spada, said in a statement. “Moreover, the producers have failed to compensate Ms. Taymor for their continued use of her work to date.”
As every Broadway afficionado knows, Taymor was pushed aside by producers and her longtime collaborators—Spider-Man composers Bono and The Edge from U2—after it became clear in the spring that the problem-plagued production wasn’t working as originally envisioned.
She was replaced by Phillip William McKinley (The Boy From Oz) who reworked the book to focus more on the Peter Parker-Mary Jane love story, resurrected the Green Goblin as the principal villain and added more high-wire derring-do among other pertinent changes.
But despite the tweaks, the tuner retained most of Taymor’s signature visual style, puppetry and other creative contributions, complicating her exit and prompting the Stage Director and Choreographers’ Society to file an arbitration claim on her behalf seeking unpaid directing royalties.
“Since Ms. Taymor’s departure in March, we have repeatedly tried to resolve these issues,” Turn Off the Dark producers Michael Cohl and Jeremiah J. Harris said in a statement to E! News. “The production has indeed compensated Ms. Taymor for her contribution as a co-book writer. Fortunately the court system will provide, once and for all, an opportunity to resolve this dispute. We look forward to a resolution in which everyone is properly compensated for their contribution to Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark.”
By the time Spider-Man finally premiered in June (after the longest preview period in Broadway history, natch), Taymor appeared to temporarily put the bad feelings aside to grace the red carpet with the rest of the cast and crew.
But the arbitration suit still remained in which she claimed backers owe her more than $500,000 in royalties. A hearing on the matter took place earlier this month but a decision has not yet been made public.
Either way, if today’s legal action is any indication, it doesn’t sound like Taymor’s too happy with what she’s received monetarily so far.
Despite the internal squabbling, Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark is holding its own at the box office—grossing $1.4 million last week—some of the strongest along the Great White Way just behind The Lion King and Wicked.
And if there’s a silver lining to Taymor’s somewhat sullied reputation, she was declared eligible for a Tony nomination in the musical director category—that is, if the Broadway community agrees that she deserves one.