Monty Python members have lost a key lawsuit over profits stemming from the musical production Spamalot, based on the 1975 film Monty Python and the Holy Grail.
Mark Forstater, who was a producer on the 1975 film, asked a UK High Court to allow him a larger share in the profits from Spamalot stage productions.
The Tony Award-winning musical was written by Monty Python’s own Eric Idle for its 2005 debut, and is described as being “lovingly ripped off from” the 1975 film. In his lawsuit, Forstater said that he was owed “spin-off” money under a 1974 agreement between him and the Python members.
During last year’s trial, Forstater positioned himself as the “seventh Python” in terms of profit-sharing, that that he couldn’t have his portion reduced by agreement of the other six members. A UK judge agreed on Friday, dismissing Monty Python member claims that Forstater was being ungrateful.
His original 1974 agreement have him a £5,000 fee and a share of merchandising and “spin-off” profits. He estimates that he has lost $400,000 in profits.
Some of the Python members proved indifferent to Forstater’s complaint, but Idle commented that he now firmly dislikes the “seventh Python,” with the judge remarking that some members “undoubtedly regarded Mr. Forstater as ungrateful.”
Key to the ruling was a production journal kept by Python member Michael Palin. In it, he recounts specific details of the relationship between the Pythons and Forstater, and it seems clear that the relationship was strained even then.
“….as we are a soft lot and not at all businesslike, I think it would be in the finest traditions of Python irrationality if we gave Mark an extra £1000 and a silver tray with some cut glass sherry glasses and told him to stop writing to us for more money. Beyond that even I am not prepared to go. Oh, all right, some cheese straws to go with the sherry glasses.”
Do you think that Monty Python owes Mark Forstater for Spamalot, or is the self-styled “seventh Python” indeed being ungrateful?