Vivendi Files Motion to Dismiss $400 Million Spın̈al Tap Lawsuit

  • Axl Rosenberg

I’m sure this will come as massive shock to many of you, but Vivendi does not want to pay the co-creators of Spın̈al Tap.

Harry Shearer, who plays bassist Derek Smalls, first filed a suit against Vivendi last October, claiming that media conglomorate “conducted blatantly unfair business practices” and claiming that the “talent” — i.e., him — “has not been fairly remunerated” as the result of “the same sort of fuzzy and falsified entertainment industry accounting schemes that have bedevilled so many other creators.” Then, last month, Michael McKean (a.k.a. David St. Hubbins), Christopher Guest (a.k.a. Nigel Tufnel), and director Rob Reiner (who also played ‘Marty Di Bergi’) joined the suit, raising the total sum sought from $125 million to $400 million.

Now The Hollywood Reporter, um, reports that Vivendi has filed a motion to have the suit tossed out of court. The reason? They say no one ever asked them to open their books in the first place:

“Plaintiffs never requested, much less conducted, any audit. Thus, they lack the information they would need to assert that [Vivendi subsidiary] Studiocanal rendered erroneous or improper Spinal Tap participation statements, if that had happened. However, it did not. Had plaintiffs investigated their lawsuit before filing it — a duty that at least the plaintiffs’ lawyers bear under Rule 11 of the Federal Rules of Civil Procedure — they would have learned that they have no basis on which to assert any claims concerning the calculation and payment of the Spın̈al Tap participation. That is because Studiocanal has accounted and paid STP’s participation in accordance with the Agreement.”

The motion further argues “that ownership of a contracting party does not confer third-party beneficiary status” and “that the Spın̈al Tap members signed inducement letters looking to STP to collect payments, and thus, they waived the right to sue.” It also claims that “even though Spın̈al Tap has garnered affection in the United States, it has generated U.S. theatrical revenue of under $5 million. Revenue from other sources and territories has been similarly modest.”

That last assertion, at least, is only kinda true: while This is Spın̈al Tap grossed $4,736,202 at the domestic box office, that was in 1984; adjusted for inflation, the figure is actually a little over $11 million. That’s still nowhere near the amount Shearer and company are seeking, obviously, but if your argument is “Our accounting isn’t shady,” nudging the facts like this is not a great look.

You can read the entire story here.

[via Metal Insider]

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