The nation’s collective fascination with the Gabby Petito case inspired movie-length YouTube videos and hours of TikTok content. As CNN recaps, in June 2021, Petito took a cross-country road trip with her fiancé, Brian Laundrie. Laundrie returned home unpetito in September and declined to give an explanation as to where she might be. Her body was found just weeks later in Teton County, and Laundrie – who died by suicide a month later – has been implicated in her murder ever since.
In recent years, increasing interest in true crime has led to podcasts, films, and documentaries. From Netflix’s Making a Murderer to The Tinder Swindler, we can’t seem to take our eyes off the crime. Still, attention to families can sometimes be painful.
Hulu’s documentary, Dead Asleep, explored the death of Brooke Preston but focused more on her killer, who claimed to have committed the crime while he was sleeping. Speaking to Rolling Stone, her sister Jordan said: “We are a grieving family. Why do they want to exploit us? They bring our pain to the screen.” Now that news of a Gabby Petito Lifetime movie is circulating, many are not happy.
Many say it’s still too early for a film about the case
Lifetime’s film about the murder, entitled The Gabby Petito Story, is in early production. So far, the IMDb page is relatively sparse, with the only named contestant being “American Beauty” and “Pregnancy Pact” star Thora Birch as director and Petito’s mother. However, new images from the Daily Mail have made it clear that the film is indeed in the works and fans aren’t happy about it. Actress Skyler Samuels was spotted near Salt Lake City, Utah with a replica of Petito’s “Let It Be” tattoo on her arm. Evan Hall, who will play Brian Laundrie, joined her on set.
After the leak, NewsNation released a poll asking Twitter users if it was “too early to make a movie about it.” [Petito’s] Death.” Out of 2,698 voters, 86% said yes. “This is way too soon and totally disrespectful,” wrote one respondent. Another wrote: “I think it’s too early as the case is not necessarily closed.” It is true that many details of the case are still unfolding, with a notebook containing a confession from Laundrie only being released to the public a few days ago have been done.
While Fox News reports that the film is part of Lifetime’s Stop Violence Against Women campaign, many believe it will do more harm than good. One Twitter user wrote: “Fuck that Gabby Petito movie Lifetime is doing and fuck everyone involved. That doesn’t create awareness. That doesn’t create any change. It’s just sick entertainment.”