A settlement has been reached in a long-running dispute in Los Angeles between the creators of “This Is Spinal Tap” and Vivendi SA, which owns the rights to the classic mockumentary, according to court records obtained Tuesday.
After nearly four years in federal court, comedian-actor Harry Shearer and company have managed to come to an agreement with Vivendi and its StudioCanal movie division, attorneys said in court papers.
Shearer sued the French conglomerate in 2016, accusing the company of manipulating financial information about the cult film and its spinoffs in order to underpay royalties. His “Spinal Tap” co-creators, Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and Rob Reiner, subsequently joined as co-plaintiffs.
The suit sought at least $400 million in damages for the film’s creators. Financial details of the settlement were not disclosed, according to the joint status report filed Friday.
According to court records, the parties have had more than a dozen telephonic settlement conferences with a federal magistrate judge over the past several months. Another status report is expected to be filed next month.
Shearer — known for voicing nearly two dozen characters on “The Simpsons” — co-created the 1984 film that follows the exploits of the much-troubled fictional heavy metal group Spinal Tap. Shearer portrays the group’s bass player, Derek Smalls.
According to the suit, the film and its music “have remained popular for more than 30 years, and have earned considerable sums for the French conglomerate Vivendi SA. But not for its creators.”
The lawsuit states that despite two theatrical releases of the film and repeated re-selling of rights that earned profits for multiple companies, Vivendi insists that the total share of worldwide merchandising income for the film’s four creators — including director/narrator Reiner — totaled $81 between 1984 and 2006, while total income from music sales from 1989 to 2006 was $98.
The plaintiffs settled their dispute with Universal Music over the soundtrack in November.