#DisneyMustPay: Star Wars and Alien novel writer Alan Dean Foster accuses studio of failing to pay royalties

Jacob Stolworthy
·2-min read
 (Rex Features)
(Rex Features)

Author Alan Dean Foster, who wrote the novelisations of two of Disney's biggest franchises, has called out the studio for failing to pay him royalties.

With backing from the Science Fiction Writer's Association of America (SFWA), the author has accused the studio of halting payments after acquiring Lucasfilm, which releases Star Wars films, and Fox, the studio that owned the Alien series until a merger with Disney in 2019.

Foster wrote the novelisations of George Lucas' original Star Wars film, A New Hope (1977) as well as Star Wars: Splinter of the Mind's Eye (1994). He also wrote the books of the first three Alien films.

In a letter published on the SFWA's website, it's claimed that Foster's agent, Vaughne Hansen, was told by Disney's publishing branch the unpaid royalties were only allowed to be discuss should Foster sign a non-disclosure agreement.

This would have prevented the writer from being able to talk about the situation publicly.

When the SFWA's lawyers contacted Disney on Foster and his lawyer's behalf, Disney told them it “had acquired the rights, but not the obligations”.

According to US contract law, though, the studio would have acquired both the rights to sell Foster's books as well as the obligation to pay him the agreed royalties.

Mary Robinette Kowal, the SFWA's president, called Disney's response “absurd and extremely concerning” for the writers they collaborate with.

<p>Alan Dean Foster wrote the novelisation of the first ‘Star Wars’ film</p>Rex Features

Alan Dean Foster wrote the novelisation of the first ‘Star Wars’ film

Rex Features

“It’s not right. It’s not complicated, morally or ethically, and I don’t think it’s complicated legally,” she added. “It just needs to be addressed.”

Disney is being heavily criticised on social media following the publication of the letter, with the phrase “#DisneyMustPay” trending worldwide.

The Independent has contacted the studio for comment.

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