The Los Angeles Times reports today about how CHEETAH GIRLS novelist Deborah Gregory got screwed by Disney. Hollywood cheating novelists isn’t a new story, but the timing of this
one, on the same day the strike ends, underscores why screenwriters
need the Writers Guild of America:
Gregory expected to get a piece of the action when she signed a 2001
contract promising her 4% of the net from all of this activity. But
like many other authors who have signed away dramatic rights, she says
she never got a penny of the profits. Unlike screenwriters, who were
backed by a strong union in their recently ended strike, most literary
writers are at a disadvantage when negotiating with Hollywood. And it
is difficult, if not impossible, for them to crack the safe.
Gregory said she’s pocketed $125,000 over the last nine years in option
fees and payments for her title as co-producer of the movies. Although
she’s asked for them, she has never gotten "net profit participation
statements" from Disney, spelling out details of expenses and revenues.
If anyone is getting rich on this formidable franchise, Gregory noted,
it’s not the woman who created it.
[…]The stakes are high because 43% of Hollywood movies in the last five
years were adapted from books and other written materials, according to
estimates by the Writers Guild of America. What makes Gregory’s case
unusual is that she didn’t simply write a book, she wrote bestsellers
that led to a movie and marketing bonanza.
The article says she got $180,000 in advances for her 16 CHEETAH GIRLS novels, which have sold 2 million copies. What the article doesn’t say is whether she earned out and, if so, how much she has made in royalties thanks to the huge marketing push behind the movies, DVDs and CDs. Even so, whatever that figure is, it doesn’t come close to the financial bonanza that she ought to be sharing in as the creator of the franchise.