With more than a hundred books in his name, Alan Dean Foster has written quite a bit over the years. But Foster may have just written his most important work yet: a letter to the Walt Disney Company, addressed to the company’s mascot, Mickey, politely demanding the company pay him for book royalties. It seems Disney has stopped compensating Foster for his work and there’s now a movement to make things right.
The letter from Alan Dean Foster to Disney was posted by the Science Fiction Writers of America, which outlines in specific detail instances in which the author feels like the company hasn’t made good on their contracts. He specifically mentions publishing rights to Star Wars books, as well as novels based around the Alien franchise. His claim is that the company isn’t ponying up the required dollars outlined in the original deal.
Apparently, some of the works in question stem from Disney’s purchasing of different companies. Back in 2012, Disney acquired Lucasfilm and with it, the rights to the entire Star Wars catalog. Then in 2019, Disney purchased 20th Century Fox who, among many other things, owned the Aliens franchise. Disney’s argument is that when they made these acquisitions, they solely purchased the material, not the compensatory contracts that went along with them. This is where Alan Dean Foster and the Science Fiction Writers of America make their complaint. Disney appears to be welching on what amounts to agreed-upon compensation for the author.
It’s a troubling story, especially when Alan Dean Foster goes on to say in his letter that both he and his wife are suffering from various medical issues, including cancer. He ensures that he isn’t looking for “charity” here, but rather what he believes he is rightfully owed.
This letter and the Science Fiction Writers of America’s printing of it to bring more attention to Alan Dean Foster’s situation has prompted an online movement around two different hashtags: #DearMickey and #DisneyMustPay. The latter is definitely gaining traction on Twitter, with Star Wars fans, in particular, demanding that Disney make good on the original agreements with Foster. Considering he’s probably best known for ghostwriting the novel versions of the Star Wars films, it stands to reason that Disney owes him a significant amount of money, especially if they stopped paying at the time of acquisition.
This isn’t the only online movement targeted at Disney and Star Wars right now. Fans are also calling for the firing of Gina Carano from Disney+’s The Mandalorian over comments she made regarding the election and mask-wearing guidelines during the pandemic. She has not indicated any apology is forthcoming which, for some, has only heightened any perceived tension around the stance.
If Alan Dean Foster’s claims are correct, and from his letter and the Science Fiction Writers of America’s response, it sure seems like Disney has come up short in their deal, then we can only hope the great writer is fairly compensated. Here’s to hoping the situation is resolved amicably and fairly.