The film – which is based on 22-year-old Gabby Petito whose death in 2021 became widely publicised – was given the green light by the network in May. Petito’s family reportedly do not approve the making of this film.
Photos from the shoot were released on Monday (27 June), days after a confession note from Petito’s fiancé Brian Laundrie’s notebook was made public. In it, Laundrie wrote that he “ended her life” because he wanted to “take away” Petito’s pain.
Twitter users have widely condemned the forthcoming film.
“I won't be watching. I already know this isn't the Petito/Schmidt family saying this is ok. The poor family can't even get a break,” one user said.
Another wrote: “And it will have the ‘Hollywood' spin that will make the already horrific story even worse.”
“I will not be watching! I wish we could start a petition to stop it! It's Sickening!” someone else said.
A number of people suggested that Lifetime are “trying to make money off a tragedy”.
“Making a movie out of this tragic story is f***ing gross. Everyone involved is gross,” wrote another.
The Gabby Petito Story is directed by child star Thora Birch’s (best known for Purple People Eater). She will also star as Nicole Schmidt, Petito’s mother.
The film follows the release of Peacock’s 2021 documentary The Murder of Gabby Petito: Truth, Lies and Social Media.
Petito, an aspiring social media star who went missing in late August 2021 during a cross-country road trip from New York to Oregon with her fiancé Laundrie, was strangled to death. Her body found in a Wyoming national park.
More than a month later, skeletal human remains found inside the Myakkahatchee Creek Environmental Park in Florida were confirmed to be those of her fiancé Brian Laundrie.
Autopsy results showed Laundrie died from a self-inflicted gunshot wound, and a notebook found alongside the remains contained a note claiming responsibility for the murder.
Laundrie claimed in the confession note that Petito had been injured after falling into a creek prior to her death. “I found her breathing heavily gasping my name, she was freezing cold,” he wrote.
He claimed she was “gasping in pain, begging for an end to her pain”.
The Gabby Petito Story is expected to premiere later this year as part of Lifetime’s “Stop Violence Against Women” campaign.