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A Lifetime movie about the tragic death of Gabby Petito was seen filming for the first time in Salt Lake City, Utah on Thursday.
The Gabby Petito Story is being filmed as part of Lifetime's 'Stop Violence Against Women' public affairs initiative and will be directed by Thora Birch, who will also play the role of Petito's mother, Nichole Schmidt.
Birch was spotted consulting with the actors who are set to portray Petito and boyfriend Brian Laundrie, as they filmed an intense fight scene between the couple at a campground.
The actors, whose names have not yet been made public, were also spotted embracing as the tense scene was filmed.
According to Deadline, the movie 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'.
Petito was killed by Laundrie during a road trip in Wyoming last summer. Laundrie's body was later discovered in Florida's Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park. He died by suicide from a gunshot to the head.
As the four-and-a-half-month investigation concluded, the FBI found Laundrie solely responsible for ‘the tragic death of Gabby Petito’.
A notebook found near Laundrie’s remains contained a written confession.
The pair had embarked on a cross-country road trip, with Petito documenting their travels on social media. The couple travelled in a white van that was seen in many of her social media posts. A similar van was also spotted on the set of the movie.
During one fight scene, Laundrie is spotted storming off into in the white van, which he later drives home alone in after murdering his girlfriend.
News of the movie has not gone down well with social media users, who feel the project is poorly timed, as Petito was killed only last year and eight pages of Laundrie's confession notebook were just made public.
One Twitter user said: "I can’t believe this even needs to be said but we do NOT need a Gabby Petito murder movie. We don’t."
Another user wrote: "Hollywood is making a movie about the death of Gabby Petito?!?! Unreal. Tone deaf. But I’m not surprised. Hollywood can’t come up with anything original these days.”
However, it comes as part of Lifetime's Stop Violence Against Women public affairs initiative, which was relaunched in 2018 and seeks to educate and empower the public through public service announcements, advocacy and partnerships with non-profit organisations.
Lifetime Senior Vice President of Publicity and Public Affairs Kannie Yu LaPack told NCTA: "Advocacy has always been part of Lifetime's DNA and a core tenant for the network for over 35 years. Stop Violence Against Women was relaunched in 2018 when we saw there was a need to provide resources to our audience, especially with what was happening with #MeToo and upcoming programming we had planned for the network. We knew we had to be responsible and honest to our audience and provide connections and resources for them if they need it."
The Gabby Petito Story will continue to be filmed in Utah over the summer, with the movie set to premiere on Lifetime later this year.
If you have experienced a bereavement and would like to speak with someone in confidence contact Cruse Bereavement Care via their national helpline on 0808 808 1677
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