Disney accused of failing to pay 'Star Wars' novelists royalties since Lucasfilm acquisition
Authors have formed the DisneyMustPay task force to inform writers of their rights
Writers responsible for penning books within the "Star Wars" universe are coming together and alleging that Disney is failing to pay royalties to them since acquiring Lucasfilm in 2012.
While the "Star Wars" franchise is best known for its movie and TV projects, the extended universe was largely made up of novels and comic books for several years prior to its resurgence in pop culture thanks to the Disney+ streaming service.
In April, The Guardian reported that a task force made up of science fiction, fantasy, romance, crime and horror authors had formed in an effort to persuade Disney to pay authors outstanding royalties for novelizations and comics related to properties like "Star Wars," "Alien," and "Indiana Jones."
Prominent authors such as Neil Gaiman, Tess Gerritsen, Mary Robinette Kowal and Chuck Wendig reportedly joined the group, which calls itself the DisneyMustPay Joint Task Force. The group is backed by the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America in partnership with the Author’s Guild, Horror Writers Association, National Writers Union, Novelists, Inc., Romance Writers of America and Sisters in Crime, according to the outlet.
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The Hollywood Reporter notes the task force lists several companies that it had identified as owing money to authors, including three Disney-owned or part-owned publishers: Disney Worldwide, Marvel Worldwide (the publishing arm of Marvel Entertainment) and Boom! Studios, in which Disney owns a minority stake.
The outlet interviewed authors such as Walter Jon Williams, who wrote the 2002 novel "Star Wars: The New Jedi Order — Destiny’s Way," who claimed that the company never paid him royalties nor did it provide an adequate avenue with which he could pursue the issues.
The outlet notes that Disney’s stance on the matter has to do with its acquisition of Lucasfilm does not extend to the third-party publishers with whom the authors made their initial royalty deals.
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Representatives for Disney did not immediately respond to Fox Business' request for comment.
However, a representative told THR: "We are carefully reviewing whether any royalty payments may have been missed as a result of acquisition integration and will take appropriate remedial steps if that is the case."
The task force and subsequent royalties battle first began when the Science Fiction and Fantasy Writers of America got involved after author Alan Dean Foster, who wrote both "Star Wars" and "Alien" novels, claimed publicly that he had not been paid since the Mouse House acquired Lucasfilm in 2012 and 20st Century Fox in 2019 respectively.
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At the time, Foster said his situation was dire given that his wife has "serious medical issues" and revealed he was diagnosed with an advanced form of cancer in 2016.
"We could use the money. Not charity: just what I’m owed," he said at the time (via The Guardian).