“Spinal Tap” Lawsuit Sheds Ugly Light on Industry Profit Math “Spinal Tap” Lawsuit Sheds Ugly Light on Industry Profit Math
A low-budget flop turned cult favorite, “This Is Spinal Tap” has spawned an entire movie genre and turned a fake band into a real... “Spinal Tap” Lawsuit Sheds Ugly Light on Industry Profit Math

A low-budget flop turned cult favorite, “This Is Spinal Tap” has spawned an entire movie genre and turned a fake band into a real touring act since its release in 1984.

One thing it has never done, however, is make its creators any money, according to an article on Bloomberg.com.

A lawsuit brought by last October by Harry Shearer and joined in February by co-stars Christopher Guest, Michael McKean and director Rob Reiner, alleges that industry bookkeeping dodges have cost the film’s creators their fair share of millions of dollars in revenue that should have come their way with the film’s success after its theatrical run. Instead, their work has been rewarded with a pittance. An audit of studio numbers revealed that the four received a total of $81 from worldwide merchandising from 1984-2006, and $98 from soundtrack sales from 1989-2006.

“I always thought record contracts were mind-bogglingly abusive until I started reading movie studio contracts,” says Amanda Harcourt, a U.K.-based intellectual-property consultant who performed the audit.

Read more about how the entertainment industry accounting often stacks the deck against creators holding a piece of the net profit at Bloomberg.com