Sunday 22 November 2020

Star Wars author challenges Disney empire

Author Alan Dean Foster, who ghost-wrote the original Star Wars novelisation for George Lucas, wrote sequel Splinter of the Mind's Eye (before The Empire Strikes Back) and the original Alien trilogy novelisations, isn't receiving royalties from Disney following the company's acquisition of Lucasfilm and Twentieth Century Fox.

Foster, who was diagnosed with cancer in 2016, has published an open letter, which he hopes will be wildly shared. As a lifelong fan of Disney, Star Wars and his work, I feel compelled to repost verbatim:

"Dear Mickey,

We have a lot in common, you and I. We share a birthday: November 18. My dad’s nickname was Mickey. There’s more.

When you purchased Lucasfilm you acquired the rights to some books I wrote. STAR WARS, the novelization of the very first film. SPLINTER OF THE MIND’S EYE, the first sequel novel. You owe me royalties on these books. You stopped paying them.

When you purchased 20th Century Fox, you eventually acquired the rights to other books I had written. The novelizations of ALIEN, ALIENS, and ALIEN 3. You’ve never paid royalties on any of these, or even issued royalty statements for them.

All these books are all still very much in print. They still earn money. For you. 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 miniscule (though it’s not small to me) share.

You want me to sign an NDA (Non-disclosure agreement) before even talking. 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. You continue to ignore queries from SFWA, the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America. 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?

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. Or as a guy named Bob Iger said….

“The way you do anything is the way you do everything.”

I’m not feeling it.

Alan Dean Foster

Prescott, AZ"

What are your thoughts on Foster’s feud with Disney? Let me know in the comments below.


  1. I am very much a fan of ADF and have owned / own many of his novelisations, incl. the original trilogy novelisations. I think Disney should be paying him the ongoing royalties, although that will depend on what the original contract says, but as he points out you inherit the liabilities as well as the assets.

    I wonder if he still gets royalties for The Black Hole (assuming it's still in print), for which he also wrote the novelisation and was a Disney film originally and not one that they have bought?

    1. I never read Alan Dean Fosters' The Black Hole novelisation. Thanks for pointing that out.


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