This Is Spinal Tap actors Christopher Guest and Michael McKean and the mockumentary’s director Rob Reiner have joined co-star Harry Shearer’s lawsuit against the film’s rights holder Vivendi.
In October, Shearer filed a $125 million lawsuit against Vivendi, alleging accounting misappropriation, fraud and breach of contract in regards to the 1984 cult classic and its soundtrack.
In the lawsuit, Shearer claimed that, over a 22-year period, he only received $98 for his contributions to the soundtrack and $81 from merchandising income. The income he generated from his share was “about enough to buy one miniature Stonehenge,” he joked.
Shearer also launched a website – Fairness Rocks – to assist in his legal battle against Vivendi.
Now, Spinal Tap is reuniting, in a sense: Guest, McKean and Reiner announced Wednesday that they too have aligned with Shearer’s lawsuit against the French corporation, with the foursome, as joint plaintiffs, now seeking $400 million in damages.
“Their participation will help demonstrate the opaque and misleading conduct at the heart of this case. We’re even louder now,” Shearer said in a statement.
McKean added, “This Is Spinal Tap was the result of four very stubborn guys working very hard to create something new under the sun. 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.”
Reiner, who previously supported Shearer’s lawsuit against Vivendi before ultimately joining the legal battle Wednesday, told Rolling Stone in October, “The artists involved in Spinal Tap deserve fair compensation for their work. It’s impossible that Vivendi’s income from music sales and merchandising totaled just $179 over a more than 20-year period.”
In Shearer’s lawsuit, the actor is also seeking to have the rights to This Is Spinal Tap revert back to its creators because of a Copyright Act provision that terminates some licenses after 35 years. However, while the Spinal Tap characters were created in 1978, it’s unlikely those licenses would expire until 2019, or 35 years after the comedy’s release.