NEW YORK (Reuters) - Ousted “Spider-man” director Julie Taymor sued the Broadway musical’s producers on Tuesday for copyright infringement, claiming the show that was revamped after she left retained some of her original work.
Taymor, who spent years working on the critically-panned $70 million show “Spider-man: Turn Off the Dark,” filed suit in federal court citing copyright infringement and breach of contract “arising from their unauthorized and unlawful use of Taymor’s copyrighted written works,” according to court documents.
Taylor alleged that the show’s book — the non-sung words — had been used in the musical since it reopened on May 12, 2011 after a major revamp, and was “copied and derived from Taymor’s copyrighted 2004 treatment and her original book.”
The Tony-winning director of “The Lion King” was removed from the production in March but the lawsuit notes she continues to be credited as co-writer on the show’s website.
Taymor seeks a permanent injunction barring the show from using her copyrighted elements without compensation. The lawsuit alleges she has suffered in excess of $1 million in damages.
“Spider-Man” producers Michael Cohl and Jeremiah J. Harris said in a statement that since Taymor left in March they had “repeatedly tried to resolve these issues. 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,” the pair said.
Taymor’s lawsuit follows an arbitration claim filed in June by the Stage Directors and Choreographers Society, the union representing Taymor, seeking some $300,000 in unpaid royalties over her troubled relationship with the show.
“Spider-Man: Turn Off the Dark”, with music by Bono and The Edge, closed for three weeks in April for a major revamp by a new director after cast members were injured in preview shows and critics panned early performances.
When it finally officially opened in June, it suffered another round of crushing reviews but has nonetheless played to packed houses and is taking in about $1 million a week.
Taymor, ironically, was last week ruled eligible for a possible Tony award nomination for best director of a musical.
Reporting by Chris Michaud; editing by Jill Serjeant