How Disney is screwing the author of numerous best-selling movie novelizations

Originally published at:


Another corporation hoping Boomer nostalgia will overlook the fact that it’s a huge conglomeration of profit-oriented businesses, and give it a pass (lookin’ at you, Nestle).


Disney, always on the cutting edge, redefining the term ‘Disney Villain’.


Now I don’t have to feel guilty if I download a pirated version of a Disney movie. Since didn’t download it directly from Disney their rights somehow got lost in the transition.


What a dick move.

Yeah, that would be a horrible precedent, and I honestly don’t see how they think they will get away with it.


So now it sounds like I can download Disney content without the “obligation” to pay for that content.
Oswald the rabbit must be rolling over in his grave right now.


remember this is also the author who bought us the Spellsinger series, which was awesome.


I would have at least looked at the NDA, and made some of my own changes.

  • NDA is binding only in the event that an agreement is reached.
  • Maximum length of NDA is 3 years.
  • If negotiations falter, NDA is null and void.
  • NDA does not preclude original payment terms, unless parties agree to new payment terms.

More money for expensve lawyers and the ability to keep appealing forever. They don’t have to win, just keep gong until Foster can’t afford to go on.

“If you’re a single-digit millionaire like Hulk Hogan, you have no effective access to our legal system, It costs too much."

  • Peter Thiel

Interesting. I know that one of the ways that Lucas was able to make Star Wars on the relative cheap is to give his lead actors percentages of the profits. I wonder whether Disney is paying them their money or is it only less monied authors who can’t fight back that they’re shafting.

It would be extremely hard for Disney to argue that they’re responsible for some of Lucasfilm’s liabilities, but not all of them.


Considering Star Wars still hasn’t TECHNICALLY turned a profit, I’d say “no”.


They have enough money to buy whatever law they want

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True to a degree… but as mentioned in the OP, nothing would stop anyone else from selling assets to sister companies and then “Oops, your contract was with XYZ Corp, this is ZYX Corp.”

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Were there any bankruptcies involved in the chain of acquisition? That’s about the only thing I can think of that might extinguish liabilities. And I’m not that familiar enough with bankruptcy to know whether it can extinguish prospective liabilities or just past liabilities. In general, I don’t think that Disney can unilaterally demand an NDA as a pre-condition to fulfilling the terms of an existing contract, so this seems open and shut.


Could you elaborate on “Technically” or cite a source? ANH was made for 11 Million and has grossed ~$775 million. That’s a big “techniically”.

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It isn’t unique to Star Wars, but basically despite large gross sales and years since the release, they are still assigning costs against their profits.

It mentions in the article that David Prowse isn’t getting money from RotJ.

This may have changed since Disney took over, but I kinda doubt it.


Yeah “Hollywood accounting” is nigh universal in tinseltown.

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I feel like if you start dictating terms the Disney Lawyers are just going to walk away, just like they did when the author refused to sign. It’s in Disney’s interest to drag these proceedings out as long as possible. There’s a chance the author will run out of money or die or something and let them weasel out of paying indefinitely. Disney doesn’t want these negotiations to finish because it’s pretty clear that every reasonable outcome results in them paying royalties to the author.

The government doesn’t care because the IRS still gets their money in the end. Only the artists who worked on the film get screwed over.


This is so nonsensical on the face of things (how they can claim they own the rights without the liabilities when they entirely bought up the corporate entity that held both, rather than just buying the rights and leaving Lucasfilm saddled with the liabilities), I wondered how it even happened. Charles Stross suggested that Disney is used to doing everything on a “work for hire” basis, and doesn’t even have the infrastructure for tracking - and paying out - royalties, and they failed to notice, when they bought Lucasfilm, that this was going to be necessary. The Disney lawyers finally realized it, too late, and are coming up with desperate legal nonsense as an ass-covering exercise.

Not that it really changes anything - Disney are clearly in the wrong and being total shitheads about it by doubling down on being wrong. It’s just interesting that there’s likely incompetence as well as malevolence involved here. It also explains why Disney are likely willing to spend a great deal of money on lawyers to drag this out, far more than the royalties would cost them - because the cost to Disney is not just the royalties, but also all the staff necessary to pay out the royalties. It’s cheaper to destroy one writer than pay what they’re legally obligated to pay.