Spinal Tap Members “Go to 11” with $400 Million Lawsuit over Unpaid Royalties
Last year, Harry Shearer claimed he was owed a great deal of Spinal Tap royalties and announced he was suing Vivendi and StudioCanal for some $125 million USD. As if that weren’t large enough, the rest of the Spinal Tap crew has signed on, ballooning the lawsuit to $400 million.
According to the Guardian, Shearer has been joined by bandmates Michael McKean and Christopher Guest, as well as This Is Spinal Tap director Rob Reiner.
The group allege that Vivendi manipulated accounting data while ignoring other accounting and reporting processes in order to fudge the numbers.
The Spinal Tap creators were contractually obligated to a 40 percent stake in profits, but Vivendi reported that the film only made $98 in soundtrack sales and $81 in merchandise sales between 1989 and 2006.
“The deliberate obfuscation by Vivendi and its subsidiaries is an outrage,” Christopher Guest said in a statement. “It is vital that such behaviour is challenged in the strongest way possible.”
Reiner added, “Fair reward for artistic endeavour has long been raised by those on the wrong end of the equation. What makes this case so egregious is the prolonged and deliberate concealment of profit and the purposeful manipulation of revenue allocation between various Vivendi subsidiaries — to the detriment of the creative talent behind the band and film…. Such anti-competitive practices need to be exposed. I am hoping this lawsuit goes to 11.”
As for McKean, he said, “This Is Spinal Tap was the result of four very stubborn guys working very hard to create something new under the sun. The movie’s influence on the last three decades of film comedy is something we are very proud of. But the buck always stopped somewhere short of Rob, Harry, Chris and myself. It’s time for a reckoning. It’s only right.”
In addition to the lawsuit, Shearer has also addressed this issue via a website called Fairness Rocks. Stay tuned for more details on the case as they unfold.