This Is Real. Spinal Tap Sues for $400 Million

  • Band re-forms to sue Vivendi for $400 million over film income
  • Vivendi declines to comment on lawsuit filed by Harry Shearer

Spinal Tap

Photographer: Pete Cronin/Redferns

Spinal Tap is regrouping to demand that Vivendi SA, the distributor of the 1984 cult film, give them some money.

Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Rob Reiner -- who played singer Nigel Tufnel, lead guitarist David St. Hubbins and director Marty Di Bergi in “This Is Spinal Tap” -- joined bass player Harry Shearer’s lawsuit against Vivendi. The revised complaint demands $400 million in damages for "anti-competitive and unfair business practices, as well as fraudulent accounting," the men said Wednesday in a statement.

The faux documentary followed the starcrossed and musically challenged band on a North American tour, and helped usher in a genre satirizing serious films. It popularized lines such as “This goes to 11,” and introduced songs such as “Gimme Some Money” and “Tonight I’m Gonna Rock You Tonight.” It was added to the U.S. Library of Congress as an important work, despite grossing what Box Office Mojo estimated as just $4.5 million in U.S. theaters.

"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," Reiner said in the statement.

A Vivendi spokesman declined to discuss the lawsuit, saying the company doesn’t comment on ongoing litigation.

Shearer asked for $125 million in his original October filing. The lawsuit alleges that the Paris-based company made millions from videos and music from the film but failed to share the income with the actors and creators.

The men’s statement said that Vivendi maintains that the four creators’ share of total worldwide merchandising income between 1984 and 2006 was $81. The French company estimated the total income from soundtrack music sales between 1989 and 2006 at $98, they said.

The case is: Century of Progress v Vivendi SA, 2:16-cv-07733, U.S. District Court, Central District of California

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