Star Wars And Alien Novelization Writer Alleges Disney Isn't Paying Him Royalties

Alan Dean Foster wrote the novelizations for the original Star Wars trilogy and first three Alien movies.


Novelizations of big movies were hugely popular in the '70s and '80s, and one of their most prominent writers was Alan Dean Foster. He wrote the adaptations of the original Star Wars trilogy and first three Alien movies, as well as Splinter of the Mind Eye, the 1978 novel sequel to the first Star Wars film. Disney now owns both of these massive franchises, and Foster has accused the company of not paying him the royalties he is owed on his books.

Foster states when Disney purchased Lucasfilm in 2012 and 20th Century Fox in 2019, it bought the rights to his work. However, even though his Star Wars and Alien novels are still in print, Foster alleges that the company claims it is not liable to pay him royalties on their continuing sales.

In a statement, Foster said, "When one company buys another, they acquire its liabilities as well as its assets. You're certainly reaping the benefits of the assets. I'd very much like my minuscule (though it's not small to me) share. 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.

"My wife has serious medical issues and in 2016 I was diagnosed with an advanced form of cancer. 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. I don't think Unca 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."

Foster, who is being assisted in his claim by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), alleges that Disney has refused to discuss the matter with him unless he signs a Non-Disclosure Agreement. The SFWA has requested that either Disney pays him "all back royalties as well as any future royalties," or it ceases publications of the books and pays him the back royalties. Disney has not commented publicly on the issue.

In related news, one current filmmaker hoping to restore the popularity of movie novelizations is Quentin Tarantino. The director recently announced that he's writing a novelization of his 2019 hit Once Upon a Time in Hollywood, which will be published by HarperCollins next summer.

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