Disney denies negotiating for the rights to use Carrie Fisher's digital image - report

General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) with Han Solo (Harrison Ford) in The Force Awakens.
General Leia Organa (Carrie Fisher) with Han Solo (Harrison Ford) in The Force Awakens.PHOTO: DISNEY - LUCASFILM

Movie giant Disney has denied that it is negotiating with Carrie Fisher’s estate for the right to use digital images of the late actress in future Star Wars films, according to a Guardian report.

The BBC programme Newsnight has claimed that the studio entered into such discussions "with what might be regarded as unseemly haste".

Fisher, 60, died on Dec 27 after suffering a heart attack days earlier.

"With what might be regarded as unseemly haste,  Disney is negotiating with the actor’s estate over her continued appearance in the franchise. If Disney gets the go-ahead, Carrie Fisher will join Peter Cushing, who, last month, 15 years after his death, played a key role in Rogue One as Grand Moff Tarkin," said Newsnight presenter Kirsty Wark, whose comments were made ahead of a video report on using actors’ likenesses after their deaths on the Jan 10 edition of Newsnight.

Rogue One: A Star Wars Story famously featured Peter Cushing, despite the fact the actor had died in 1994.

Disney used a combination of digital effects to change the appearance of actor Guy Henry to appear as Cushing's character, so that it seemed as if Cushing was acting from beyond the grave.

Newsnight reported that Disney could be discussing doing the same thing with Fisher, who returned to the Star Wars franchise in JJ Abrams' 2015 film, The Force Awakens, as General Leia Organa.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=K_P4G25rpRk

There was no more detail on what exactly Disney is negotiating with the estate, said Britain's Telegraph. The studio may want to continue using Fisher's likeness on merchandise, or, as with Cushing, want to bring Leia back for Star Wars: Espiode IX, which is due for release in 2018, it said.

But Disney has denied that any such negotiations are taking place, said the Guardian, quoting industry sources.

The Newsnight programme pointed out that technological advances come with their own ethical questions: just because late actors can be brought back to popular franchises, it doesn't mean that they should. 

Some living actors have taken steps to ensure that once they die, they do not return to the big screen. Robin Williams, who died in 2014, for example, banned the commercial use of his image until 2039.