Spinal Tap was undoubtedly the greatest 'mockumentary' film ever made.
Yet, according to a lawsuit filed by one of its stars, Harry Shearer, the film's merchandising income from 1984 to 2006 amounted to $81. That's right. Eighty-one dollars. That's about €73 in our money. For twenty-two years of merchandising. Maybe it's the music and the soundtrack that made some money, right?
$98, according to Shearer's figures.
In a video statement released on Twitter, Shearer said that "after all this time, the only people who haven't shared Spinal Tap's success are those who formed the band and created the film in the first place." Shearer's lawsuit accuses Vivendi Universal and StudioCanal of "wilfully manipulating certain accounting data" and "ignoring contractually-obligated accounting and reporting processes."
All told, Shearer is looking for $125,000,000 for compensation and punitive damages. Hollywood accounting is nothing new, of course. My Big Fat Greek Wedding had a production budget of $6,000,00 and made over $350 million at the box-office, yet somehow managed to lose $20 million. The film's producers, Tom Hanks and his wife, Rita Wilson, filed a lawsuit in 2007 for profits. Return of the Jedi, which was a box office smash and made over $572 million worldwide, never turned a profit. More recently, The Lord of the Rings trilogy suffered "horrendous losses" - despite the fact that the trilogy made close to $3 BILLION at the box-office.
Vivendi Universal and StudioCanal have yet to release a statement about Shearer's lawsuit.