You know, it’s hard to think of another movie from the past 50 years that’s had a bigger impact on modern comedy than This is Spinal Tap, a self-proclaimed “mockumentary” about the lives of “England’s loudest band” Spinal Tap played brilliantly by Michael McKean, Christopher Guest and Harry Shearer and directed by Ron Reiner.
Yet…according to Vivendi (distributor of the film), Shearer and his three creative partners’ share of total worldwide merchandising income from 1984 to 2006 was $81, and the total income from soundtrack sales from 1989 to 2006 was $98. That’s just dollars, with no zeros at the end.
So the band is back together again, and they’re demanding $400 million in damages. The other cast members aren’t commenting on the specifics of the litigation, deferring to Shearer as their spokesman on the matter. And so get ready for some legal action, folks! Amanda Harcourt, a U.K.-based intellectual-property consultant with a specialized practice helping artists secure the rights to their creations has taken the case and says, “I always thought record contracts were mind-bogglingly abusive until I started reading movie studio contracts.”
The studio claims the film had a very “modest” box office take at the time and home video and merchandising sales were “decent.” And yet, 30 years later, this modest film has been seen by almost every breathing human on the planet and its language is widely quoted around the world. The math doesn’t really seem to match the reality in this case.
But the courts will ultimately decide what happened and who is owed what. Because everywhere you find human beings working on things, you find ugly, loud disputes. And when they threaten YOUR business, especially things like landlord/tenant matters, contract disputes, or even collections, call a litigator that takes it to 11, Dean Sperling, who will resolve YOUR matter with YOUR best interests in mind.
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