Lifetime is dealing with serious backlash ahead of the release of The Gabby Petito Story. Fans believe it’s too soon for a biopic, and her family never wanted the story to be dramatized at all.
Petito’s mother, Nicole Schmidt, recently issued a statement to the AWARE Foundation, which is a non for profit that advocates for “the missing, endangered, or murdered,” and she said the family did not give the network permission to bring the heartbreaking situation to the screen.
“We thought our followers should know that the Lifetime movie on Gabby Petito has no connection to the Petito family nor did they give their approval,” she wrote. “Lifetime took it upon themselves to make the movie.”
Gabby Petito went missing in August of 2021, a few months after she went on a cross-country trip with her fiance Brian Laundrie. After a highly publicized nationwide search, police found her body buried in a campground near Bridger-Teton National Forest.
Eventually, it came to light that Laundrie had murdered her. And before she got justice, Laundrie committed suicide. His remains were found inside the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park in Florida. Beside them was a notebook where he wrote a confession.
“I ended her life,” he admitted. “I thought it was merciful, that it is what she wanted. But I see now all the mistakes I made. I panicked. I was in shock. But from the moment I decided, took away her pain, I knew I couldn’t go on without her.”
‘The Gabby Petito Story’ Director Defends Her Choice to Release the Film
The Gabby Petito Story will follow the complicated and abusive relationship that Petito shared with her fiance. And it will highlight the events that unraveled during their trip.
“As the one-year anniversary of her tragic death approaches, the movie will bring to life Gabby and Brian’s doomed love story, including the warning signs that Gabby’s life was in danger, the ensuing search for her, the eventual discovery of her murder and ultimately, Brian’s suicide,” Lifetime writes in its synopsis.
Since the network shared the project with audiences, people have been furiously bashing it for Hollywoodizing the murder.
“This is absolutely disgusting,” wrote a Twitter user. “Foul. It’s barely been a year since she went missing. There’s just so much wrong with this.”
Thora Birch, the movie’s director, admitted that she was initially against the movie for the same reasons as fans. But she came to decide that bringing the story to TV would bring more attention to domestic abuse.
“Ultimately, I came to be confused by that assertion, because it avoids the true question when it comes to telling Gabby’s story, or that of so many others who have fallen victim to domestic violence: How should one approach such a delicate endeavor?” she asked. “Simply choosing not to engage doesn’t honor her memory, and doesn’t shine a light on situations that are all too common.”
The Gabby Petito Story premieres tonight, Saturday, October 1, at 8/7c.