Good news out of the Spinal Tap camp as creators Harry Shearer, Rob Reiner, Michael McKean and Christopher Guest have finally gotten a deal that could revive the franchise. Attorneys for the group as well as defendants Vivendi and StudioCanal reported that the rights lawsuit the creators had waged against the company has reached a settlement.
The whole thing started when Shearer sued back in 2016 claiming that despite the decades of success the movie has had, the creators were making an income of only $81 in merchandising and $98 in musical sales. They targeted Vivendi saying the accounting company had bungled trademark rights among other things. The creators sued for hundreds of millions of dollars in damages and were hoping to reclaim rights to the movie by exercising termination under the copyright act.
It was not smooth sailing for the creators but they were finally given the green light to pursue a fraud claim. They were also able to settle with Universal Music to get revenue for the soundtrack. Another result of the settlement was the movie being named as a work made for hire ineligible for copyright termination.
The agreement was reached last Thursday and the parties are now working on preparing a long form settlement that will lay groundwork for ‘restructuring the parties relationships and modifying contracts pertaining to the picture’s distribution’.
The settlement will also see to it that there is a monetary payment to the creators. Rights to the movie will also be more clearly defined.
In the meantime, the Spinal Tap movie continues to enjoy success. The band reunited last year to celebrate the film’s 35th anniversary with a screening at the Beacon Theater which was followed by a Q & A session and a live acoustic performance in which Elvis Costello made a guest, surprise appearance joining the band for “Gimme Some Money”.
Since Spinal Tap first came out in 1984, it has been steadily growing in popularity. Though slow to get off the ground, it gained a cult following over the years. The creators rode the coattails releasing the second album and movie in 1992 ,“Break Like the Wind”.
Other successes they’ve had include having the Spinal Tap song “Goat Boy” being featured in an IBM commercial. The band toured again in 2001. In 2002, the film was selected for preservation by the National Film Registry. In 2006 Nigel Tufnel appeared in a Volkswagen commercial. In 2007, the band premiered its song “Warmer Than Hell” at an Earth Day Gig and they released a third album “Back from the Dead” in 2009.
The band has toured to support each of its albums. The members have also worked on their careers individually with countless comedy and music projects.
Spinal Tap has truly paved the way for heavy metal music and the comedy film world in general. It’s good to see that the creators are finally getting the cut they deserve.