Legendary Author Neil Gaiman Joins #DisneyMustPay Battle

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the force awakens battle

Credit: Lucasfilm

In the world of sci-fi and fantasy novels, Neil Gaiman is a legend. The author of books like “American Gods”, “Anansi Boys”, “Fragile Things”, and “Stardust” has legions of fans. Now, he has joined the #DisneyMustPay royalty battle begun by Star Wars author, Alan Dean Foster, in November 2020.

neil gaiman and david tennant
Credit: Neil Gaiman Instagram (Gaiman, left, and David Tennant, right)

Related: ‘Star Wars’ Writer Says He “Hated” ‘The Last Jedi,’ Retcons Entire Story

Per BookRiot, the fight to receive royalties for years of book sales is beginning to heat up, with numerous well-known authors forming a task force to attempt to take legal action against The Walt Disney Company, with the aid of the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America organization:

…about a dozen authors know they have been denied royalties going back years–but likely others are affected that aren’t aware of what they’re owed. Now, Alan Dean Foster and other authors, including Neil Gaiman, Tess Gerritsen, Mary Robinette Kowal, and Chuck Wendig, have put together a #DisneyMustPay Task Force to fight to have all these authors get paid for their work.

While these authors signed contracts that assured them royalties as long as their books were being published, when Disney was contacted by the SFWA, they claimed they have “purchased the rights but not the obligations of the contract.” Disney is claiming that they can continue to profit off the intellectual property of these authors without giving royalties.

alan dean foster
Credit: SWFA (Alan Dean Foster)

Related: How Darth Vader Helped Kylo Ren Long Before His Birth

The authors involved in this situation write for some of Disney’s more recently acquired IPs, such as Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Alien, and SpiderMan. Marvel Studios (Spider-Man) was purchased by Disney in 2009, Lucasfilm (Star Wars and Indiana Jones) was sold to Disney by George Lucas in 2012, and Disney acquired 20th Century Fox (Alien) — now 20th Century Studios — in 2019.

bob iger and george lucas signing contract for disney to buy lucasfilm
Credit: StarWars.com

Related: ‘Star Wars’ Existed For 22 Years Before the Word “Sith” Was Said

It is worth noting that Foster recently confirmed on his personal blog that he is close to reaching a resolution with Disney. In his original November 2020 letter via the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA), however, he shared these details about his own situation, which is seemingly similar to what other authors are facing now:

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.

starkiller base preparation the force awakens
Credit: Lucasfilm/Disney

Related: More Writers Report Missing Royalty Payments From Disney

Wookieepedia has posted the following details about Foster’s career as a Star Wars novelist:

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).

splinter of the mind's eye cover
Credit: Random House Publishing

Related: Abigail Disney Calls Out Bob Iger For Not Paying Cast Members Enough

If you are interested in learning more about the Disney Task Force and the Disney Must Pay movement, visit the official Writers Must Be Paid website. The hashtag #DisneyMustPay is being used by supporters of these sci-fi and fantasy writers on social media.

At this time, Disney executives like Executive Chairman Bob Iger and CEO Bob Chapek have not spoken out about the alleged unpaid royalties in question.

What do you think about this ongoing situation between authors for a number of intellectual properties and the Walt Disney Company regarding royalty payments?



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