Star Wars novel author Alan Dean Foster claims that Disney owes him 4 years of overdue royalties. In addition to writing the novel for A New Hope, which came out 6 months before the movie, Foster wrote Star Wars: Splinter of the Mind's Eye and the 2015 novelization for The Force Awakens. Foster also contributed the novelizations for Alien, Aliens, and Alien 3. Ever since Disney acquired the Star Wars franchise, the author has not seen one penny from the studio.
According to Alan Dean Foster, Disney wants him to sign a nondisclosure agreement before they move forward with any negotiations. "I've signed a lot of NDAs in my 50-year career," Foster wrote. "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." The author continues, "Every one of my representatives in this matter, with many, many decades of experience in such business, echo my bewilderment." A source close to Disney says the NDA is a standard practice when dealing with matters like this.
Alan Dean Foster went on to say, "My wife has serious medical issues and in 2016 I was diagnosed with an advanced form of cancer." The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) is also backing Foster and his claims against Disney. The author states, "We could use the money. Not charity: just what I'm owed. I've always loved Disney. The films, the parks, growing up with the Disneyland TV show." You can read the rest of what Foster had to say about the matter below.
"I don't think Walt would approve of how you are currently treating me. Maybe someone in the right position just hasn't received the word, though after all these months of ignored requests and queries, that's hard to countenance."
SFWA president Mary Robinette Kowal says, "If they are doing this to Alan Dean Foster, one of the great science fiction writers of our time, then what are they doing to the younger writers who do not know that a contract is a contract?" Sources close to Disney say that they have reached out to Foster and did so back in March. They allege that they are still waiting to hear back from him. Kowal had this to say about the issue.
"The larger problem has the potential to affect every writer. Disney's argument is that they have purchased the rights but not the obligations of the contract. In other words, they believe they have the right to publish work, but are not obligated to pay the writer no matter what the contract says. If we let this stand, it could set precedent to fundamentally alter the way copyright and contracts operate in the United States. All a publisher would have to do to break a contract would be to sell it to a sibling company."
Disney claims that they are willing to work with Alan Dean Foster, even though he alleges that they have not gotten back to him in over 4 years now. Foster says, "If Disney can do this to me and to other writers, any company can do it to any creative individual." Foster is seeking back payment, along with regular earnings statements for the future. If Disney does not meet his requirements, Foster and the SFWA will request that Disney cease from selling the aforementioned books and set up a new deal. IndieWire was one of the first outlets to report on Alan Dean Foster's allegations against Disney.