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Julie Taymor Sues Spiderman Producers

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by Melissa Silverstein
November 10, 2011 3:00 PM
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Melinda Sue Gordon

Last week the news came down that Julie Taymor would be the only director eligible for a Tony nomination for the Spiderman musical which is playing to robust audiences on Broadway.  When asked at the Glamour Women of the Year event earlier this week about her potential nomination she said "It feels right."

While Taymor may be eligible for a Tony nod, she has not been able to settle her arbitration with the producers over money she is owed for her work and according to the NY Times is not confident that it would be resolved any time soon.  So she took the next step and sued for $1 million plus future royalties.  In the suit she claims that the show still uses 25% of her book without her being compensated.  She is also requesting an injunction against a documentary on the making of the musical for "unauthorized use of her name and likeness."

But like all lawsuits this one is about money and the potential payoff is huge.  The show is making about $1.5 million dollars a week on Broadway, but it costs a little over $1 million to run and with all the loans and debts there won't be anything left over in profits.  But like Taymor's first foray onto Broadway -- The Lion King -- the money to be made is in licensing the musical throughout the world.  The Lion King has grossed $4.2 billion wordwide.  That's a lot of money. 

And Taymor with her lawsuit can prevent the licensing of the musical.  In her lawsuit she cited an "author memo" which gives her approval as one of the book author writers for the disposition of the musical.  That's something the producers are going to have to resolve or else this will not only become the biggest show ever mounted, it will be the biggest flop ever mounted.

I continue to follow this story because while it might not seem to be a big story, it is a big story.  This is one female director (albeit one of the most successful female directors) standing up against producers who shunted her aside and who feel they can take what they want without paying her for it.  While she is standing up for herself she is also standing up for all directors and writers who get fired and who lose their rights or don't have the capacity to fight for them.  That's what makes this an important story to watch.

Julie Taymor Sues 'Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark' for Infringing Her Creative Input (Hollywood Reporter)

Can Julie Taymor Shut Down 'Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark'? (Analysis) (Hollywood Reporter)

Julie Taymor Sues ‘Spider-Man’ Team Over Royalties (NY Times)

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