‘Spider-Man’ producers, Taymor’s union reach deal

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NEW YORK (AP) - Producers of “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” have agreed to pay the Broadway musical’s former director and co-book writer Julie Taymor hundreds of thousands of dollars in royalties as part of a settlement that ends one chapter in the two sides’ bitter legal dispute.

The Stage Directors and Choreographers Society and the show’s producers, 8 Legged Productions LLC, announced the deal Thursday. No amount was officially disclosed but Taymor is owed at least $600,000 so far, based on estimates.

Under the deal, producers have agreed to pay Taymor full royalties as director from the beginning of previews in November 2010 through until the end of the Broadway show, however long that is. According to industry estimates, she would qualify for royalties of about $10,000 per week.

The Tony Award-winner for “The Lion King” was fired in March 2011 after years of delays, accidents, critical backlash and ballooning costs that all pushed the show’s price tag to a record-setting $75 million. The settlement also grants Taymor royalties as a collaborator from November 2010 to March 2011, but defers payment to when the production pays back its investors.

The settlement does not end a federal copyright infringement lawsuit brought by Taymor against the producers and a countersuit filed by them against Taymor and her company, LOH Inc.

“The litigation between us is over, and we are hopeful that any remaining issues between the producer and Ms. Taymor regarding her role as author can also be resolved to the satisfaction of all,” Karen Azenberg, president of the SDC, said in a statement.

In the settlement announced Thursday, both sides pulled back from litigation just as they were undergoing arbitration proceedings. Producers withdrew claims Taymor had breached her contract as director and agreed to no longer challenge the union’s jurisdiction on antitrust grounds in the case.

The two sides also agreed to a compensation package for Taymor if any subsequent productions of “Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark” are staged. Producers have mulled the possibility of touring the show or mounting a production somewhere else, such as Las Vegas.

In a statement, producers Michael Cohl and Jeremiah Harris of 8 Legged Productions, said: “We are very happy to have reached an amicable compromise with the SDC that will allow us all to move on.”

In the still-ongoing legal dispute between the two sides, Taymor is seeking half of all profits derived from the sale or license of any rights in the original “Spider-Man” book. It also seeks a jury trial to determine her share of profits from the unauthorized use of her version of the superhero story, which the lawsuit said was believed to be in excess of $1 million.

The producers, for their part, responded that she “caused numerous delays, drove up costs, and failed to direct a musical about Spider-Man that could open on Broadway.” Her version of the superhero story, they assert, bears little resemblance to the show that is currently playing at the Foxwoods Theatre.

Charles Spada, an attorney for Taymor, had no comment on Thursday’s settlement.

After Taymor left the show, Philip William McKinley, who directed the Hugh Jackman musical “The Boy From Oz” in 2003, was hired to take over. He was billed as creative consultant when the musical opened. Only Taymor will be considered eligible for the show’s Tony Award for the best direction of a musical category.

The stunt-heavy show has been doing brisk business ever since it opened its doors with Taymor at the helm in 2009 and most weeks easily grosses more than the $1.2 million its producers have indicated they need to reach to stay viable. Over the Christmas holiday, the show earned the highest single-week gross of any show in Broadway history.

Laura Penn, executive director of the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, hailed the settlement as one that frees Taymor from the headache and cost of another lawsuit. “She should be making art, not litigating,” she said in an interview Thursday.

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