The opening of the Broadway musical Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark may have been postponed for a fifth time, but that hasn't stopped the critics jumping in early to skewer the whole shebang.
Julie Taymor's $65 million (Dh239m) production will have been in its preview stages for an inordinate 15 weeks before its premiere, now tentatively mooted for March 15. Meanwhile, producers have raised hackles by continuing to charge full ticket price, making it the highest-grossing musical on Broadway for the first week of January.
But given the $1m-a-week running costs of cast, orchestra and aerial stuntsmen, along with a grandiose score composed by U2's Bono and The Edge, the show will still have to sell out every night for years, just to break even.
Infuriated critics have now broken with tradition, tearing in with a stream of vitriol before the beleaguered production has officially opened.
"The sheer ineptitude of this show loses its shock value early," foamed Ben Brantley in the New York Times. "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?'."
On The Huffington Post, John Grohol wrote: "I'd be hard pressed to recommend this hot mess, especially at the ridiculous ticket prices charged. It just isn't worth it. You won't remember attending it a week later - except in your wallet."
The show's spokesman, Rick Miramontez, was left calling foul at the salvo of pre-emptive broadsides. "The PILE-ON by the critics was ridiculous and uncalled for," he told Entertainment Weekly. "Their actions are unprecedented and UNCOOL!"