The scorned producer won the lawsuit, but lost the friendship.
The producer behind Monty Python and the Holy Grail has won the lawsuit against the comedy team, entitling him to one seventh of the profits from Spamalot – a musical, based on the film. Mark Forstater – one of the people behind Monty Python’s 1975 movie, claimed that he was entitled to an equal share of the Spamalot royalties, while the comedians had only paid him half of that – one fourteenth. While those fractions might not sound too profitable, the musical achieved great success on Broadway in 2005 and entitles Forstater to a hefty sum of money.
Forstater was entitled to twice the amount he was paid for Spamalot.
The agreement, which was under dispute, was created in 1975 between the producer and Python Pictures. It stated that Forstater was entitled to one seventh of the 50% royalties off any merchandise and spinoff income that the team might receive. Since the musical falls under spinoffs… well that means that there’s a lot more cash in it for Forstater. Justice Norris at the high court ruled that this agreement was valid and that in this case, Forstater should be treated like a full member of the comedy team – or at least be entitled to the respective salary. According to Forstater’s own calculations, said salary amounts to £220,000 plus interest. However, despite the monetary reward, the 69-year-old producer regretted that the lawsuit had cost him his friendship with the comedians.
"Terry Gilliam and I used to share an appartment," the producer commented with regret.
"I have always been adamant I was correct. I have been proved right – justice has prevailed," he said for the Guardian outside of court. "There is a sadness though about having to face people who were my friends in court."
He continued: "The friendship has gone. Terry Gilliam and I used to share a flat. We go back 51 years."
Spamalot, currently showing at London's Playhouse theatre, is billed as "lovingly ripped off" from the Monty Python and the Holy Grail. During its 2005 run on Broadway, it grossed more than $175m (£117m) and scooped three Tony awards.
Gilliam described the claims as "utterly laughable."