This Is Spinal Tap Director on Seeking $400 Million in Withheld Royalties: ‘I Am Hoping This Lawsuit Goes to 11’

Photo: MGM

Last year, Harry Shearer filed a $125 million lawsuit against the French company Vivendi, accusing them of fraudulently withholding royalties from the classic mockumentary This Is Spinal Tap. The complaint filed by Shearer claims that “according to Vivendi, the four creators’ share of total worldwide merchandising income between 1984 and 2006 was $81 (eighty-one) dollars. Between 1989 and 2006 total income from music sales was $98 (ninety-eight) dollars.” The original production deal apparently entitled Tap co-creators Shearer, Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, and Rob Reiner to 40 percent of the movie’s net profits, which logically seems like it should add up to more than just under $200 over the past 30 years. Today, those co-creators joined Shearer in his suit, and the amended complaint is seeking $400 million, as well as certain rights permissions, such as trademarks for the band’s name and the name of the character Derek Smalls (played by Shearer). “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,” said Reiner. “I am hoping this lawsuit goes to 11.”

Spinal Tap Creators File a Massive Lawsuit Over Royalties