This Is Spinal Tap co-creators Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Rob Reiner have formally joined fellow creator, Harry Shearer (pictured), as plaintiffs in his lawsuit against French conglomerate Vivendi SA.
The original complaint, made by Shearer’s service company Century of Progress Productions [Case No. 2:16-cv-07733] was filed on October 17 2016. The suit alleges that Vivendi SA ‘engaged in anti-competitive and unfair business practices, as well as fraudulent accounting’ directly related to its management of This Is Spinal Tap.
With Guest, McKean and Reiner’s official involvement, the revised suit now seeks US$400 million in compensatory and punitive damages, up from the US$125m originally claimed.
The amended complaint, which also incorporates Spinal Tap Productions (owned in equal share by all for co-creators) as a joint plaintiff alongside the co-creators and their service companies, details Vivendi’s alleged manipulation of accounting data, while ‘ignoring contractually obligated accounting and reporting processes to deny the plaintiffs their rightful stake in the production’s profits’.
Commenting on the lawsuit, Guest said: “The deliberate obfuscation by Vivendi and its subsidiaries is an outrage. It is vital that such behavior is challenged in the strongest way possible.”
Reiner added: “Fair reward for artistic endeavor 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.”
“This is Spinal Tap was the result of four very stubborn guys working very hard to create something new under the sun,” said McKean. “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.”
Shearer said of his co-creators’ decision to join: “Their participation will help demonstrate the opaque and misleading conduct at the heart of this case. We’re even louder now.”
According to the Official Charts Company, the This Is Spinal Tap album has sold 26,779 copies.
Vivendi has yet to comment.