What is a reasonable person going to believe regarding this recent tale about a bona-fide movie classic and enduring cult extravaganza?
If you're of a certain age, you've likely seen and duly appreciated the film This is Spinal Tap, an offering directed by Rob Reiner that a recent Bloomberg article straightforwardly terms "a 1984 mockumentary about a fictitious heavy metal band."
The movie allegedly grossed only about $4.5 million in theaters in the United States, a point that is emphatically made by the French company Vivendi SA, which owns all intellectual property rights to Tap.
Notwithstanding that meager take, though, anyone who knows anything about the movie well appreciates that it has aged superbly, and with enduring appeal that spans generations.
"The film is on view almost constantly," notes its co-creator Harry Shearer, who played bass player Derek Smalls in the movie.
Shearer points to Tap's continued viability in myriad entertainment formats (e.g., VHS, DVD, Blu-ray, Laser Disc, cable TV and so forth), as well as to the huge merchandising monies it has generated through product sales over decades
He and his Tap's writers, cast and crew have not shared in the spoils, he says, and that constitutes a Vivendi-authored fraud of massive proportions engineered through accounting manipulations. Shearer recently filed a federal lawsuit against Vivendi in a Los Angeles federal court.
Shearer points to a Vivendi assertion that Tap took in a stunning $81 in global merchandising income from 1984 to 2006. He counters that gross accounting irregularities have actually deprived the rightful recipients of film-related income scores of millions of dollars.
The lawsuit seeks $125 million in damages.