A U.S. judge said the creators of “This Is Spinal Tap” may pursue the fraud claim underlying their $400 million lawsuit against Vivendi SA over the 1984 cult film.
The decision on Tuesday by U.S. District Judge Dolly Gee in Los Angeles is a victory for Christopher Guest, Michael McKean, Rob Reiner and Harry Shearer, who accused Vivendi of depriving them of a “fair return” from the film, its music and related merchandise.
Gee said the plaintiffs could try to show that Vivendi’s StudioCanal unit breached a 1982 agreement to finance and produce the film through self-dealing, failing to provide required accounting statements, nonpayment of royalties, and “nefarious accounting” to hide profits.
“This alleged misconduct amounts to more than mere false assurances that defendants were complying with the 1982 Agreement,” Gee wrote.
Vivendi, through spokeswoman Solange Maulini, declined to comment on Wednesday. The Paris-based company has controlled “Spinal Tap” rights for nearly three decades.
“This Is Spinal Tap” is a pioneering example of the mock documentary, and is part of the U.S. National Film Registry.