Star Wars novels seek years of missing royal payments from Disney

Alan Dean Foster was in his late 20s when George Lucas, who was standing near a model of a Millennium Falcon in a warehouse in Southern California, met to discuss writing the new novel of his upcoming film “ Star Wars. ”

The original contract demanded an advance payment of $ 7,500, until Mr Lucas threw a 0.5% royalty on Mr Foster which Mr Foster, now 74, says he put up several times that first payment. They arrived several times a year as the 1977 blockhouse set box office records and the update he wrote on sold over a million copies.

Alan Dean Foster ‘s copy of’ Star Wars’ by Carrie Fisher, George Lucas, Harrison Ford and others has been signed.


Caitlin O’Hara for The Wall Street Journal

Then, in 2012, Walt Disney Co.

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Lucasfilm Limited bought – and the royal investigations ceased.

Now, Mr. Foster and other authors from Disney DIS -0.38%

Purchasing rights are in heated controversy with Hollywood’s largest empire, which they say refuses to pay compensation on book deals he seized in a $ 4 billion Lucasfilm contract and other property . The amount of money at stake on a Disney-sized company is small but important to the writers who want it. While Disney has mined Lucasfilm to collect nearly $ 6 billion worth of new films at the worldwide box office, these writers say the company has delayed dealing with their complaints and stripping them on reviews that rarely a few thousand buckets apiece.

Since Mr. Foster’s controversy was made public by the Society of Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, other book authors related to projects from Indiana Jones to “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” have come up with similar stories in studies royal halt after Disney’s acquisition. the buildings. In each case, Disney is threatening to attack an obscure but crucial tent of the franchises, as these updates helped build and maintain fan loyalty. Complexities: The real money is uncertain, as the sales and realms of the books involved have changed wildly over time.

Since the Alan Dean Foster controversy with Disney became public, the authors of other books related to franchises that are now with the company have come up with stories similar to discontinued royal studies.


Caitlin O’Hara for The Wall Street Journal

A Disney spokesman said: “We are carefully reviewing whether any royalties have been lost as a result of construction integration and we will take corrective action if this is the case.”

Mr. Foster, who has long been known to Star Wars fans, says Disney is avoiding working-day players who help build intergenerational connections with beloved characters. He and his wife are both in poor health, and he said royalty earnings could come in for medical expenses.

“I am not Steve Spielberg. I am not Steve King. I don’t even have a name that starts with Steve, ”he said.

The controversy began in the summer of 2019, when Mr. Foster’s literary agent, Vaughne Hansen, first asked Disney why he stopped receiving royal studies on three novels he wrote related to “Alien , ”The outside horror series produced by Twentieth Century Fox, the studio bought Disney as part of a $ 71.3 billion deal in 2019.

Mr. Foster and his agent then realized that the same thing had happened to his realms for two Star Wars books after Disney bought Lucasfilm.

In response to questions about the “Alien” investigations, a Disney lawyer told Mr. Foster that the company had acquired rights to these books, but that they had no obligations to pay out kingdoms. But as for “Alien,” Ms. Hansen said, the rights to Mr. Foster’s novels were re-assigned several times, without any interference from royal studies, before Disney bought Fox.


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“It simply came to our notice then. They want to keep living in the house. They don’t want to pay the mortgage, ”said Mr Foster.

The writers’ group says a similar pattern has emerged after another Disney build. At least half a dozen writers across a range of Disney-owned buildings have since claimed to be in the same boat, said Mary Robinette Kowal, president of Science Fiction Writers and Fantasy America.

Alan Dean Foster, depicting a 30-million-year-old spider rooted in amber, wrote three novels linked to the films ‘Alien’.


Caitlin O’Hara for The Wall Street Journal

Disney has begun reviewing the “Alien” issue, but a line of writers behind Mr Foster is waiting for a turnaround at the negotiating table. Overall, Ms. Hansen believes her client had made more than $ 50,000 in realms on the original Star Wars update on his own before the investigations stopped in 2012.

If Disney agrees to work out the required realms, it is a daunting task to find sales that cover six years and, in Mr. Foster ‘s case only, five published novels. in dozens of international markets.

Donald Glut, a writer who updated “The Empire Strikes Back,” and James Kahn, who edited the third film of the original trilogy, “Return of the Jedi,” both say they are missing royal scrutiny. also.

If a resolution is not reached, the writers’ association could do more, Ms Kowal said, including putting Disney on a list of publishers it urges its members to avoid. The term given to such a designation: “Writer’s Note.”

Write to Erich Schwartzel at [email protected]

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