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First look at Gabby Petito movie filming draws criticism online

Behind-the-scenes photos and videos show two actors portraying Petito and Laundrie reenacting an argument.

SALT LAKE CITY — Just days after the murder confession in Brian Laundrie's notebook was released, the public is getting a first look at the made-for-TV movie about Gabby Petito's death.

The news has sparked some backlash online from users calling the decision to make the movie "tone deaf" and exploitative.

Behind-the-scenes photos and videos show two actors portraying Petito and Laundrie reenacting an argument in which the actor portraying Laundrie storms off into a white van.

Twitter users widely condemned the images, with several pointing out that it has been less than a year since the 22-year-old's body was found in Wyoming's Bridger-Teton National Forest.

"I can't believe this even needs to be said but we do NOT need a Gabby Petito murder movie. We don't," one user wrote.

"They're actually making a movie about this...no one knew an argument actually ensued as both were found dead. Grasping at straws to make a quick buck. Sick," another added.

Lifetime announced the project in May after people across the country watched new information in the case unravel for months. Page Six reports that the movie is part of the network's Stop Violence Against Women Public Affairs campaign.

According to a May release from A+E Networks, Emmy-nominated actress Thora Birch, known for "The Walking Dead" and "American Beauty," is directing the film and will play Gabby's mom in the movie named "The Gabby Petito Story."

"'The Gabby Petito Story' will explore Gabby and her fiancé Brian Laundrie’s complicated relationship and what may have gone wrong during their cross-country trip that resulted in Gabby’s tragic murder," the release read.

The movie is reportedly being filmed near Salt Lake City, Utah, and is set to premiere later this year.

Weeks after Petito left on a cross-country road trip with her fiancé, she was reported missing when Laundrie returned to his North Port home without her. 

Laundrie's refusal to speak to authorities and subsequent disappearance set the internet on fire, with a slew of online personalities vowing to solve the case.

In October, FBI Denver confirmed that Petito's body was found in Bridger-Teton National Forest. The coroner's office determined the initial manner of death was a homicide.

A final autopsy determined she was killed by "manual strangulation," according to the Teton County, Wyoming, coroner. It was estimated that Petito had died three to four weeks before her body was found.

Weeks later, authorities confirmed human remains they found at the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park in Sarasota County belonged to Laundrie. The FBI said the skeletal human remains were identified through a comparison of dental records. 

Authorities would later report that Laundrie died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound.

On Friday, photos of Laundrie's notebook, in which he confessed to killing his fiancée, were released to the public.

"I ended her life. I thought it was merciful," the notebook reads.  

"From the moment I decided, I took away her pain, I knew I couldn't go on without her," Laundrie continued. "I am ending my life not because of a fear of punishment but rather because I can't stand to live another day without her."

Last week, was the pre-trial hearing in the lawsuit filed by Petito's family against the parents of Brian Laundrie. The lawsuit claims the Laundries are responsible for "intentional infliction of emotional distress" in their failure to report their alleged knowledge of Gabby's death to her family.  

 

 

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