Star Wars Author Pens Open Letter To Disney Over Unpaid Royalties

When Disney bought Lucasfilm in 2012, they didn’t just win the right to produce new entries in the Star Wars saga. They also inherited obligations to the many creators associated with the Star Wars brand, including authors who have fleshed out the universe in novels and other assorted tie-in merchandise. In other words, the studio must keep paying these writers for their contributions. But according to Alan Dean Foster, that isn’t happening. In a new open letter found on the Science Fiction & Fantasy Writers of America website, Foster claims that Disney hasn’t been paying him royalties for his Star Wars books.

Foster has been with the Star Wars franchise since the very beginning. In 1977, he ghostwrote the original film’s novelization, while the cover gave George Lucas sole credit. That same year, Foster wrote Splinter of the Mind’s Eye, another Star Wars novel that served as a sequel to the first movie and helped launch the Expanded Universe. Aside from his Star Wars work, Foster also penned the novelizations for the first three Alien installments. These films also fall under Disney’s purview following the studio’s acquisition of 20th Century Fox last year. Foster insists that all of these books continue to make money. However, Foster says that he hasn’t made a dime from them since Disney took over.

SFWA president Mary Robinette Kowal noted that Foster initially aired his grievances with her organization last year. Regardless, the author’s dispute with Disney still hasn’t been settled. Foster detailed some of his interactions with the studio’s legal team in his letter:

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“You want me to sign an NDA (non-disclosure agreement) before even talking,” wrote Foster. “I’ve signed a lot of NDAs in my 50-year career. Never once did anyone ever ask me to sign one prior to negotiations. For the obvious reason that once you sign, you can no longer talk about the matter at hand. Every one of my representatives in this matter, with many, many decades of experience in such business, echo my bewilderment.”

“You continue to ignore requests from my agents,” added Foster. “You continue to ignore queries from SFWA, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America [and] you continue to ignore my legal representatives. I know this is what gargantuan corporations often do. Ignore requests and inquiries hoping the petitioner will simply go away. Or possibly die. But I’m still here, and I am still entitled to what you owe me. Including not to be ignored, just because I’m only one lone writer. How many other writers and artists out there are you similarly ignoring?”

Additionally, Foster shared that he was diagnosed with “an advanced form of cancer” in 2016 and that royalty payments would help finance his treatments as well as those for his wife, who also suffers from “serious medical issues.” In response to his letter’s publication, #DisneyMustPay has begun trending on social media. Foster has already attracted support from a few prominent members of the literary community, including former SFWA president John Scalzi and sci-fi author N.K. Jemisin.

You can share your thoughts on Foster’s feud with Disney in the comment section below.

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