The John Carter fans writing thousands of letters to Disney Studios Chairman Alan Horn and Disney Corp Chairman Robert Iger over the last four months have yet to receive a substantive reply from either Horn or Iger. What has been received, according to Jan Austin of the Facebook Back to Barsoom John Carter Sequel Group, are form letters from Yvonne Kubicek, Paralegal Manager, Office of the General Counsel, stating that the fan letters constitute an “unsolicited creative idea” that, per longstanding policy, Disney cannot “accept or review for consideration”. The Disney response goes on: “our company’s long-established policy does not allow us to accept for review or consideration ideas, suggestions, or creative materials not specifically solicited by us or our subsidiaries. our intention is to avoid misunderstandings when projects are created internally which might be similar to submissions from outside the company.”
In response, Austin has written: “I’m writing to urge you to speak to your supervisors, and with their help, reach a conclusion that when a fan writes in urging Disney to make the sequel to ‘John Carter’…..that fan is NOT submitting IP (Intellectual Property) that requires a form letter response.” The letter goes on to state: “Under the terms of Disney’s agreement with Edgar Rice Burroughs, Inc, you have acquired the rights to the first three books and have the right to produce a sequel. I (we) am (are) urging you to exercise those rights which you own and make the sequel.”
Austin goes on to list all the activities that the fans have undertaken in support of Disney’s John Carter, and assures Disney of the intention of the group to support Disney and the film going forward.
The idea that a fan suggesting that Disney deliver on the sequel that it already owns the rights to is somehow unsolicited IP is , well, interesting. Based on public statements by Disney executives, the three properties were acquired with the intention of making sequels and creating a franchise, so it seems a bit of a stretch to classify fan exhortations as unsolicited “creative ideas”.
This came up once previously and a Disney employee explained that all employees from the parking lot attendants to Robert Iger are a) trained to reject any unsolicited “creative idea”, and b) that it is Disney’s policy to respond to every letter it receives. Thus far there have been many thousands of letters and, according to the Facebook Group, just two responses. It would be interesting and probably help its relations with fans if Disney could at least come up with a form letter that makes sense, along the lines of:
“Dear _____, we appreciate your support for John Carter and your desire for a sequel. Please be assured that fans like yourself are heard when you reach out to us, and your strong interest in John Carter is fully understood. While we cannot offer any assurances at this time regarding a sequel, we do want you to know that your letter has been received and noted.”
I mean … how hard can it be? It’s obvious that asking Disney to make a film of a property it owns is not unsolicited IP.
Now that the Facebook group has someone — in this case Yvonne Kubicek — to correspond with, it will be interesting to see where this leads.