Animated ALADDIN Screenwriters Aren’t Getting Compensation For New Live-Action Remake

There is lots of potential money to be made by Disney in the remaking of their animated classics into live action films. Just don’t expect the studio to be sharing any of that with the writers of the original films.

Following the release of the first teaser trailer for next year’s Aladdin, the Guy Ritchie-directed remake of the 1992 Disney animated feature, Terry Rossio, one of the four credited screenwriters on the film, had a few things to say and took to twitter to say them –

It turns out that under the terms of the contracts for the film signed by Rossio, his writing partner Ted Elliott and directors Ron Clements and John Musker, the writers are not entitled to any compensation for derivative works such as a live action adaptation to be made from the original film.

Unfortunately, this is really just a new variation on a tune that we have heard before. Long ago, before the golden age of television, actors’ contracts never considered the idea of compensation for their films being aired on TV. Everyone from Humphrey Bogart to Roy Rogers to the Three Stooges did not receive a single penny for their film work that wound up helping the fledgling medium of television to explode the way it did. And in the early decades of television, the ability to syndicate reruns of a television series ad infinitum was unforeseen, and so the stars of such series such as Gilligan’s Island or Star Trek that ran forever never saw anything in the way of residuals. Wash, rinse, repeat for the rise of home video and again for the rise of internet content streaming. It was only after it became an issue that the Writers Guild of America would move to address it in the next round of contract renegotiations.

Additionally, while the WGA at least now tries to be proactive in updating their standard contracts with the advent of new technologies, the work that Rossio did on Aladdin was covered by the Animation Guild’s (I.A.T.S.E. Local 839) contract of the time. And usually the Animation Guild contract lags behind the WGA’s in terms of what they provide for their guild members.

Now it would seem like it would be a nice thing for Disney to do by throwing Rossio a bone and at least give him that Park pass that he asked for. But if they did, it would be setting a potential legal precedence that would say that Disney admits that writers of animated features that get turned into live action films are entitled to some form of compensation. Even if it is just as something as inconsequential as a Park pass.

But still, even if Disney doesn’t have a contractual or legal reason not to give compensation, there is the question of whether they have a moral or ethical obligation here, which I think they do. It is just that I don’t expect Disney to live up to it.

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About Rich Drees 7059 Articles
A film fan since he first saw that Rebel Blockade Runner fleeing the massive Imperial Star Destroyer at the tender age of 8 and a veteran freelance journalist with twenty-five years experience writing about film and pop culture. He is a member of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle.
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