One day after This Is Spinal Tap star and co-creator Harry Shearer sued Vivendi for accounting misappropriation, fraud and breach of contract over the film and its soundtrack, Spinal Tap actor–director Rob Reiner has thrown his support behind Shearer. In the suit, Shearer alleged that he earned only $81 in merchandising income over a 22-year period and $98 for his contributions to the soundtrack.
“The artists involved in Spinal Tap deserve fair compensation for their work,” Reiner says in a statement to Rolling Stone. “It’s impossible that Vivendi’s income from music sales and merchandising totaled just $179 over a more than 20-year period.”
Shearer is seeking $125 million in compensatory and punitive damages, claiming Vivendi engaged in “anti-competitive and unfair business practices” and “willfully concealed and manipulated years of accountings to retain monies due and owing to Plaintiff.”
Shearer alleged that Vivendi had reported to him that the movie “hasn’t been profitable,” despite multiple theatrical releases, home-video releases and TV airings. “Filing a claim like this one is neither fun nor easy,” he said in a video statement. “Going up against a major multinational is not nearly as enjoyable as playing too loud in Carnegie Hall. But people who are squashed by large corporations can’t fight back unless they have significant resources of their own. I’m incredibly fortunate to be able to fight back and I think it’s important to challenge the status quo, not just for myself but I hope for all my fellow artists, musicians and creators. After all, they depend for their livelihoods on a fair return for their hard work.”
In extra features of a 2014 re-release of the film, Reiner recalled how life imitated art after the film’s release of the movie. “We tried to think of all those things that can go wrong on tour,” he said. He went on to note that a founding member of Black Sabbath accused him of stealing the Stonehenge theme. “They were so furious,” he said. “They said, ‘They stole it from us.’ It took us two years to make the movie. They thought that we shot it, we filmed it, we cut it together, we got it into the theater in a two-week period.”
‘This Is Spinal Tap’ actor Harry Shearer filed a $125 million lawsuit against the company that now owns the film. Watch here.