Harry Shearer Files $125 Million ‘Spinal Tap’ Lawsuit
How much more sued could French movie studios Vivendi and StudioCanal be? The answer is none. None more sued.
Actor and humorist Harry Shearer has slapped a big fat lawsuit on the former backers of the 1984 mockumentary landmark This Is Spinal Tap, citing fraud and breach of contract. As noted by the Hollywood Reporter, through this suit, the prolific Simpsons voice actor is also attempting to seize control of the perennially lucrative rights to the film and its popular soundtrack.
Officially filing the complaint on Monday in California federal court, Shearer claims that despite the film’s unflagging popularity and continued presence as a live act, he and his co-creators have received but a paltry $81 in merchandising income and a pitiful $98 in musical sales income over the past three decades. Vivendi, having purchased the rights from original studio Embassy Pictures, has welched on their original contract to award Shearer, fellow actors Christopher Guest and Michael McKean, and director Rob Reiner the agreed-upon 40% of net receipts.
The full report at THR goes into the complex details of the case, delving into matters of complex Hollywood accounting that basically amount to the defendant parties holding onto the rights, doing little with them, and barring Shearer or his cohorts from using them to make any money themselves. If you’re fluent in legalese, feel free to peruse the full document from the courts, available here. All things considered, this is an unusually aggressive lawsuit. Like, if we were to assign numerical values to the intensity of a lawsuit, this one would probably have to go above the allotted maximum number. So, say, if we work from 10 as the highest— okay, you get the picture.