Just over a year since Brian Laundrie killed Gabby Petito, a new Lifetime movie is dramatizing the pair’s final, ill-fated road trip. The Gabby Petito Story, which premieres on Oct. 1, “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,” according to the official network synopsis.
In the weeks leading up to the film’s release, many Twitter users have called out the project — with several noting the short timing between Petito’s death and the film’s release. Skyler Samuels, who plays Petito in the film, told Entertainment Tonight she was “overwhelmed” by the prospect of portraying a real person but explained her decision to ultimately take the part. “I think we, as a consumer media culture, came in at the tail end of a much more complicated story ... Gabby’s life is much more than the headlines that we read when all of these tragedies started to occur and I just think she deserves better,” she said.
Director Thora Birch — who also plays Petito’s mom, Nicole Schmidt — told The List that she hopes the film might serve as a “cautionary tale” for viewers in dangerous relationships. “If [there’s] anybody in any situation that’s somewhat similar to this, if they see this, it could be a little bit of a wake-up call for them,” she explained.
However, you may be wondering — what do Petito’s parents think about The Gabby Petito Story?
The late traveler’s real-life mom issued a statement via The AWARE Foundation, an organization that supports missing and endangered people and their families. “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,” the statement reads, via Newsweek. “Lifetime took it upon themselves to make the movie.”
Petito’s father, Joseph Petito, hasn’t commented on the film but recently shared a throwback selfie for National Daughters Day.
So while Petito’s family didn’t condemn The Gabby Petito Story outright, the Lifetime movie doesn’t seem to have their support. Bustle reached out to The AWARE Foundation for additional comment and will update this article if a response is provided.
Since Petito’s death, her parents and their respective spouses have been working on the board of the Gabby Petito Foundation, whose mission “is to address the needs of organizations that support locating missing persons and to provide aid to organizations that assist victims of domestic violence situations, through education, awareness, and prevention strategies.”
If you or someone you know is experiencing domestic abuse, call 911 or the National Domestic Violence Hotline at 1(800) 799-SAFE (7233) or visit thehotline.org.