Critics said they would return on March 15 to review the play again.

“If I didn’t think it was fair, I wouldn’t have done it.”

Newsday’s theater critic, Linda Winer, defended yesterday her decision to review “Spider-Man: Turn off the Dark” — five weeks before the show opens on March 15. The musical was supposed to open this past Monday, and many NYC critics, including New York Times critic Ben Brantly, decided to review the show anyway while it was still in previews.

“It is time to shed some light on what’s happening there,” said Winer. The bad reviews come for a musical that’s already been plagued by injured actors, multiple delays and a $65 million budget, the most expensive in Broadway history.

Reviewing a Broadway show before its opening is highly unusual, Playbill editor Blake Ross said: “It’s really very rare … It is unprecedented that the reviewers choose to ignore an official start date.”

But will bad reviews even make a difference? For all the huffing and puffing from critics, preview showings of “Spider-Man” have already beaten “Wicked” in weekly box office tallies. New York Times critic Brantly suggested in his review that “Spider-Man” capitalize off its disaster reputation by selling “I saw ‘Spider-Man,’ and Lived” T-shirts.

“In the case of something like ‘Spider-Man,’ it’s sort of critic-proof,” Ross said. “It’s making an insane amount of money in the previews period. A lot of people have been comparing it to ‘The Addams Family’; it was slaughtered in the press, review-wise, yet there was something about it that was untouchable in terms of box office.”

They said WHAT?

Critics were not exactly kind in their analysis.

» “The sheer ineptitude of this show … loses its shock value early. After 15 or 20 minutes, the central question you keep asking yourself is likely to change from ‘How can $65 million look so cheap?’ to ‘How long before I’m out of here?’” –Ben Brantley, The New York Times

» “An inconsistent, maddening show that’s equal parts exciting and atrocious.” –Elisabeth Vincentelli, New York Post

» “On the fun meter, ‘Spider-Man’ rates a 5 out of 10.” –Joe Dziemianowicz, Daily News

» “The big shock when sitting down finally to assess this $65 million web-slinging folly is what a monumental anti-climax it turns out to be.” –David Rooney, The Hollywood Reporter

» “The toil of dedicated performers and even new musical numbers … cannot fix what should have been solved long before any human performer left the safety of the ground.” –Chris Jones, The Chicago Tribune


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