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“Spinal Tap” Stars Sue Production Company for $400 Million
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Summary: The four creatives behind This Is Spinal Tap are suing the film’s owner for $400 million in unpaid royalties and punitive damages. (Photo courtesy of Youtube.)

This Is Spinal Tap is a hilarious mockumentary from 1984 about a hapless band trying to earn some dough. Unfortunately, what happened to its co-creators and stars isn’t a laughing matter. The four creatives behind the hit cult film say that the company that owns the property has been stiffing them for almost thirty years, and now they’re suing for money owed–$400 million!

  
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Actor Harry Shearer first filed the lawsuit against companies Vivendi and StudioCanal, and the film’s director Rob Reiner and co-creators and actors Christopher Guest and Michael McKean added themselves later as plaintiffs.

“It was not until Harry filed the suit that Christopher, Michael and Rob learned they were being defrauded in this outrageous way,” the plaintiff’s attorney Robert Haviland at Ballard Spahr said to The Hollywood Reporter. “They joined neither for legal reason, nor money, but simply believed it was the right thing to do. Basic fairness is worth fighting for.”

Shearer first sniffed out fraud a few years ago when he took a meeting with an executive from Spinal Tap’s owner, Vivendi. They met to discuss the film’s re-release, and Shearer suggested they hire a boutique distribution company. To his surprise, executive Rob Halpern hired an expensive MGM-affiliate, which raised a red flag to Shearer that the movie was more profitable than he knew of.

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Shearer said that he thought Spinal Tap wasn’t as lucrative because the artists had only been paid a total of $81 for merchandising income and $98 in music sales. The creatives said that they had not received accounting statements in the past three years either. The four are now suing Vivendi for intellectual property infringement and fraud, and they seek to regain rights to their work as well as compensatory and punitive damages.

Attorney Robert Schwartz at Irell & Manella is representing Vivendi, who has stated that the film has only generated $15 million in revenue.



Source: The Hollywood Reporter

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