There are two kinds of Star Wars fans — those who have seen the Skywalker Saga, and those who have watched every Star Wars movie, seen every Star Wars animated series, and read every scrap of Star Wars novelization in existence.
If you fall into the latter category, there’s little doubt that you’re familiar with Star Wars writer, Alan Dean Foster, and his ongoing controversy with The Walt Disney Company. Last November, Foster published a letter via the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA). It read, in part:
When you [Disney] 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 [now 20th Century Studios], 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.
Foster also wrote several Star Trek novels that are not under The Walt Disney Company banner and, therefore, are not part of this royalty payment issue.
The original letter continued:
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 [sic]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.”
Now, it seems that the situation might be coming to an end. The Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America, along with Foster’s own legal team, have seemingly come close to reaching a settlement that will end this Star Wars royalty controversy once and for all.
On April 1, 2021, Foster shared on his personal blog, “The irritating imbroglio with Disney, which you may have read about, is moving rapidly toward a mutually agreeable conclusion. A formal statement will be forthcoming.”
Wookieepedia has posted the following details about Foster’s career as a Star Wars author:
He wrote the novelization of Star Wars: Episode IV A New Hope, as George Lucas’s ghost writer, and the very first Expanded Universe novel: Splinter of the Mind’s Eye. He later returned to Star Wars, first writing the Republic-era novel The Approaching Storm, and later the novelization of Star Wars: Episode VII The Force Awakens. and the short story “Bait” (published in Star Wars Insider 162).
The Force Awakens (2015), of course, was Disney’s first Star Wars movie and launched the sequel trilogy, which also included the divisive Episode VIII – The Last Jedi (2017) and Episode IX – The Rise of Skywalker (2019).
It also featured Star Wars franchise icons Jedi Master Luke Skywalker (Mark Hamill), Han Solo (Harrison Ford), and Princess General Leia Organa (the late Carrie Fisher) reprising the roles they first played over 40 years ago in Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (1977).
At this time, Foster is not writing for Disney or Lucasfilm in any capacity.
What do you think about Disney finally working out a settlement with this well-known Star Wars writer?