How much does Disney owe the 'Star Wars' novelists? Internet tears studio apart for not paying royalty
'I miss the MCU, but not as much as Alan Dean Foster misses his royalty payments,' said a fan
Disney has always been a name to reckon with, but it has only been in the past decade that it took a relentless hold on popular culture, after the acquisition of major companies such as Marvel and Lucasfilm. While Disney didn't carve new franchises, it acquired some that had already tasted success. While Disney gave them the breath of life it needed and took it to unnatural heights, the creators of the original franchises are rather unhappy. Several authors, linked with the franchises that have now been acquired by Disney, are in a dispute with the studio over the unpaid royalties.
Alan Dean Foster, who has written several novelizations of these films, happens to be one of the authors. In 1977, he had written the original novelization of 'Star Wars: A New Hope', along with the first 'Star Wars' novel 'Splinter Of The Mind's Eye'. However, as it turns out, Foster has not been paid the royalties on those books, ever since Disney purchased Lucasfilm in 2012.
This continued with three of his 'Alien' novels, as the royalties stopped flowing ever since Disney purchased 20th Century Fox. However, this isn't the only case. This dispute was made public by the Science Fiction And Fantasy Writers Association as other books including Indiana Jones and 'Buffy The Vampire Slayer' have similar grievances.
Disney had told Foster that while they bought the rights to these works, they do not acquire the obligation to pay the royalties. A Disney spokesperson told The Wall Street Journal that a review of Foster's case is underway. "We are carefully reviewing whether any royalty payments may have been missed as a result of acquisition integration and will take appropriate remedial steps if that is the case,” they said. This is not the end of the tale though, because if in the off-chance Foster receives his due, several other authors would require similar consideration. In short, it's going to be enormously difficult to calculate the amount of dues that Disney has raked up over the decades.
SFWA (Science Fiction And Fantasy Writers Of America) president Mary Robinette Kowal suggested to the WSJ that Disney should be placed on a list of companies that the organization suggests its members should avoid working with.
There is much discussion on Twitter, as people have dubbed this as 'terrible'. "I miss the MCU, but not as much as Alan Dean Foster misses his royalty payments. @disneyplus#DisneyMustPay," one wrote. "They should have solved this by now. Terrible," another wrote. "Do it. Add them to the list. The empire collapses becsuse (sic) of greed for more power instead of bringing balance," another tweeted.
Do it. Add them to the list. The empire collapses becsuse of greed for more power instead of bringing balance.— Mike B. (@CiscoKidd11) December 22, 2020
They should have solved this by now. Terrible.— Robots in Kashmir (@blackholetalos) December 22, 2020
Furthermore, Foster had also written the novelization of the 2015 blockbuster 'Star Wars: The Force Wakens', and had been approached by Shelly Shapiro of Del Rey Books to adapt the film. The book became a #1 New York Times besteller after its release. If Disney continues to not pay royalty to the authors, the studio could risk being placed on a list where authors could avoid the studio altogether, and this could serve as a harsh loss to the studio. Novelizations, especially for 'Star Wars' have been crucial as they have expanded a universe for fans, as well as brought lucrative profits for the studio and the authors.