Spamalot was described on its posters as “lovingly ripped off from Monty Python and the Holy Grail”. Now the producer of that 1975 film is claiming he has been ripped off by the musical. It is no laughing matter: Mark Forstater has issued a High Court writ saying that he is owed hundreds of thousands of pounds from Spamalot, which began its very profitable run on Broadway in 2005 before moving to the West End. It is still touring Britain.
When the movie was made, it was agreed that the six Pythons (Graham Chapman has since died) and Forstater would receive an income from the film itself and from spin-offs. The sum was, frankly, smallish to begin with, but rose considerably after Spamalot. So much so that Eric Idle, who created the musical, was quoted as saying: “I sent the Python team a royalty cheque for $1m each.” Michael Palin has spoken of Spamalot being his pension; and the Pythons’ manager, Roger Saunders, has reportedly called it “their pension plan”.
For 30 years, Forstater received one-seventh of the Pythons’ spin-off proceeds from the movie. He cannot fathom why this has been reduced to a fourteenth since the success of Spamalot. Saunders counters that “Forstater has received very substantial sums from Spamalot”, and that he has been paid in accordance with the terms of the Holy Grail production agreements. He also claims Idle was misquoted about the $1m cheques. Does he distance himself from reports about Spamalot being a “pension plan”? The Sunday Times