Disney has been in the hot seat for a plethora of different reasons as of late, due largely in part to how the house of mouse has chosen to treat their talent. Scarlett’s Johansson’s lawsuit has been at the forefront of public controversy for weeks, as well as those who had prior rights to their newly licensed IPs, particularly Marvel characters. However, Disney’s PR missteps extend even further than that. The company has been refusing to pay out royalties to writers and content creators that had solid contractual agreements to continue to receive checks before Disney’s acquisition of franchises like Star Wars. Famed author Neil Gaiman (Sandman) took to Twitter to support his fellow artists and called out Disney for their abhorrent wrong-doings.
The controversy, according to Slash Film, began months ago when writer Alan Dean Foster, who has written many novelizations for the Star Wars and Alien IPs, brought to light that Disney had been neglecting to pay him any royalties owed since they acquired the rights to those franchises. Soon after, a whole host of other writers and creators came forward. Neil Gaiman pointed out on his Twitter that even though the #DisneyMustPay campaign has been active for months, Disney still has yet to issue funds owed. Take a look at Neil Gaiman’s Tweet below.
Neil Gaiman stepping up to support those in the business will certainly help to increases the visibility of the issue. However, in response to the artists’ outcries, the organization Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America (SFWA) have employed a task force to help secure and disburse the monies owed to writers and creators who have not received royalty payments According to the Writer’s Beware blog, the organization released a press release that encourages all those affected by Disney’s negligence to speak out and share their stories.
The number of writers and creators who have not received payment is far-reaching. Disney’s ownership of six different publishing companies, including newly added BOOM!, Dark Horse, and 20th Century Fox, means that Disney owes money for work done for dozens and dozens of IPs. Sadly, as Neil Gaiman emphasized in his social media post, only a handful of well-known writers have been paid.
Neil Gaiman’s comment about how Disney has only paid a few high-profile people means that they are hypocrites. Disney’s official public position on the matter is that they are not obligated to pay out on previous contracts that they didn’t draw up. However, what goes for the few well-known artists should go for all. Essentially, work done is work done regardless of who did the work.
It still remains to be seen whether or not Disney will open up their plump wallets and do the right thing by paying out royalties to those who are owed them. However, it would certainly be in Disney’s best interest as a high-profile studio to do so, given that their track record and reputation for proper treatment of their talent has been recently skating across some very thin ice.