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Disney Refusing To Pay Alien Novelist Alan Dean Foster Royalties Owed

I’m not going to pretend to be any sort of entertainment lawyer, or laws expert, but even as a layman this excuse has me raising my eyebrows. Disney and its relationship to Alien and Predator has once again entered the news for now refusing to pay the legendary Alan Dean Foster the royalties owed for his Alien (and Star Wars) novels. Disney’s excuse? They only purchased the rights, not the obligations.

Yesterday the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America published a statement and a letter (which in itself is unusual. This is all usually dealt with by SFWA behind closed doors) written by the fan-favourite author regarding the situation.

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

Alan’s novelisations of Alien, Aliens and Alien 3 were republished again as recently as 2014 and are often staple novels found on the shelves of the science-fiction section in bookshops, so to hear that Alan is being treated this way is immensely disappointing. By going public with this, Alan and his representatives are hoping that Disney will stop ignoring them and actually discuss the situation with them.

 Disney Refusing To Pay Alien Novelist Alan Dean Foster Royalties Owed

Alien’s change of ownership, particularly in the realms of literature, has not been without controversy. The cover art for Marvel’s first Aliens Omnibus (comprising entirely of Dark Horse’s back catalog) also caused controversy with the cover “artist” Greg Land tracing and swiping artwork from existing imagery or artists such as Tristan Jones.

Though not quite the same situation, a similar issue with paying royalties arose around the writers and artists who worked with Dark Horse on the Alien and Predator series. Though Dark Horse were not contractually obliged to pay those creators royalties, certain people such as Mark Verheiden and Mark Nelson had continued to receive royalty payments. Something that is now stopping with Disney now owning the licenses, and Marvel now set to publish the comics.

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Comments: 31
  1. 426Buddy
    I'm sure Walt is spinning in his grave.


    Nah, Walt was pretty big into making endless piles of money.

    Do you know anything regarding his struggle to be paid as an artist in his early years?

    He was a f**king sellout who made war propaganda and testified against unions before HUAC. Have some perspective before you go defending a dead rich guy who never cared about your feelings. Disney hasn't turned any corners. They've always been like this.

    No need to be a dickhead, I said I was a bit hazy on his early years but I was simply refering to this.

    "Disney found his first major success with the creation of Oswald the Lucky Rabbit. Disney's character Oswald was plenty lucky, becoming a huge star in one-reel animation, but Disney himself would find his luck had run out. Traveling to New York to renegotiate his contract, he discovered that his producer had taken his team of animators from under him and that he no longer had any legal rights to Oswald the Lucky Rabbit."

    I'm certainly no expert I just thought this situation was a bit similar.

  2. 426Buddy
    I'm sure Walt is spinning in his grave.


    Nah, Walt was pretty big into making endless piles of money.

    Do you know anything regarding his struggle to be paid as an artist in his early years?
    Nah, but I know about Disney snatching up everything they possibly can in order to make as much money as possible, and I'm not even talking in recent history.



    Oh, well Walt when through similar circumstances when he was just starting out. I suggest reading up on it, its pretty interesting. It's been awhile myself so the details are sorta hazy.
  3. Xenomrph
    I'm sure Walt is spinning in his grave.


    Nah, Walt was pretty big into making endless piles of money.

    Do you know anything regarding his struggle to be paid as an artist in his early years?
    Nah, but I know about Disney snatching up everything they possibly can in order to make as much money as possible, and I'm not even talking in recent history.

  4. Rudiger
    I'm done with these assholes at Disney. Not a penny more from me.

    ADF's novelisation was my first real introduction to the Alien universe, as I was way too young to go see the film at the cinema when it was first released in the UK.
  5. SiL
    One thing that puzzles me is why this is only just now coming to light - Disney acquired Lucasfilm in like 2012 and presumably hasn't been paying Foster ever since; have they been stonewalling him for 8 years and I guess now he's finally said "enough is enough" and is going public about it? If so, he's got a lot more patience than I do, I'd have gotten angry about it way before now.
    In the press conference they said it took them a while to even track down who was currently publishing things, and then more time to find out who was issuing the licenses. That's when they said it was Disney, so they went to them, and then they wanted him to sign an NDA before negotiating.

    So a lot of bullshit going on.
  6. Xenomrph
    One thing that puzzles me is why this is only just now coming to light - Disney acquired Lucasfilm in like 2012 and presumably hasn't been paying Foster ever since; have they been stonewalling him for 8 years and I guess now he's finally said "enough is enough" and is going public about it? If so, he's got a lot more patience than I do, I'd have gotten angry about it way before now.
  7. PVC
    Hi. Thanks Mr Foster. So sorry for you.  As I always said about big corporation , consortium etc .... It's just about money.  They don't care about people like you or me. Disney doesn t care about art.  Not anymore .....
    Star Wars is crap now , the last predator movie was a piece of "sheet" ..... Because I'm polite    Alien almost dead
    I'm not surprise. And because I'm polite I'll not say the F word to Disney   They have others consideration ..... Feminism .... Agenda .... Planning ..... Lgbt ....  I'm sorry you have to talk to them , to deal with them
    A bunch of your books are part of my collection
    Mr Foster , you are an artist .... They are not.   Regards
  8. Corporal Hicks
    As shitty as the situation was with the Dark Horse writers and artists, I at least understood there wasn't any sort of legal obligation on Disney's part. But this? This is this kind of shit I could see WY trying to pull off. "We inherit the good stuff, not the bad stuff." This could set all sorts of legal precedents if they get away with this.
  9. SiL
    Slightly different situation. The comics creators weren't contractually entitled to royalties, DH had just been paying them -- and only to certain artists, not everyone. Mark A Nelson was getting royalties, but creators on other comics weren't, for example.
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