×

Alien Abduction Story ‘Captured’ in the Works as Movie

Gotham/Principal, producers of “Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials,” will team up with Bryce Zabel and Jackie Zabel via their Stellar Prods. to produce alien-abduction story “Captured.”

The project is based on the story of Betty and Barney Hill, an interracial couple from Portsmouth, N.H., who said they were captured by a UFO on Sept. 19, 1961. The Hills — a black postal clerk and a white social worker — claimed they had been studied by extraterrestrials and then returned to Earth with missing memories that were later retrieved under hypnosis.

Bryce Zabel, creator of the NBC/Sony alien-themed series “Dark Skies,” will write the script. The story is based on the 2007 non-fiction book “Captured! The Betty and Barney Hill UFO Experience: The True Story of the World’s First Documented Alien Abduction” by nuclear physicist Stanton Friedman and Betty Hill’s niece Kathleen Marden.

Producers plan to make the film in a context of both Cold War paranoia and the country’s struggle over race relations.

“Captured is a true story that explores the birth of modern UFO lore through the eyes of the first Americans to report that they were kidnapped by aliens,” said Eric Robinson, who will also produce the film on behalf of Gotham/Principal. “This is an exciting story that is as intriguing, timely and ripe for adaptation today as it was 54 years ago when this incident occurred.”

Stellar CEO Jackie Zabel said the Hills were unique in a number of aspects.

“They were an interracial couple in a country that still had segregation laws, and they lived in a city that was next door to a bomber base bristling with nuclear weapons,” she noted. “What they knew and why they were targeted will make for a phenomenal film.”

Bryce Zabel is a former CNN correspondent. His writing credits include the features “Mortal Kombat: Annihilation” and “Atlantis: The Lost Empire” and TV series “The Crow,” “L.A. Law” and “Lois and Clark.”

Zabel wrote Syfy’s first original film “Official Denial,” worked on the development team for Steven Spielberg’s “Taken,” and has recently co-authored the non-fiction “A.D. After Disclosure.” He’s a former CEO/chairman of the Television Academy.

The deal was brokered by Eric Robinson of Gotham/Principal and Jason Leibovitch of Leibo Management on behalf of Stellar.

Popular on Variety

More Film

  • Samuel-W.-Gelfman

    Samuel Gelfman, Roger Corman Film Producer, Dies at 88

    Samuel Gelfman, a New York producer known for his work on Roger Corman’s “Caged Heat,” “Cockfighter” and “Cannonball!,” died Thursday morning at UCLA Hospital in Westwood following complications from heart and respiratory disease, his son Peter Gelfman confirmed. He was 88. Gelfman was born in Brooklyn, New York and was raised in Caldwell New Jersey [...]

  • Margot Robbie stars in ONCE UPON

    Box Office: 'Once Upon a Time in Hollywood' Pulls Ahead of 'Hobbs & Shaw' Overseas

    Sony’s “Once Upon a Time in Hollywood” might not have hit No. 1 in North America, but Quentin Tarantino’s latest film is leading the way at the international box office, where it collected $53.7 million from 46 markets. That marks the best foreign opening of Tarantino’s career, coming in ahead of 2012’s “Django Unchained.” “Once [...]

  • Good Boys Movie

    Box Office: 'Good Boys' Leads Crowded Weekend With $21 Million

    The Bean Bag Boys, the self-appointed nickname for the trio of best friends in Universal’s “Good Boys,” are conquering much more than sixth grade. They are also leading the domestic box office, exceeding expectations and collecting $21 million on opening weekend. “Good Boys,” which screened at 3,204 North American theaters, is a much-needed win for [...]

  • Amanda Awards

    ‘Out Stealing Horses’ Tops Norway’s 2019 Amanda Awards

    HAUGESUND, Norway —  Hans Petter Moland’s sweeping literary adaptation “Out Stealing Horses” put in a dominant showing at Norway’s Amanda Awards on Saturday night, placing first with a collected five awards, including best Norwegian film. Celebrating its 35th edition this year, the Norwegian industry’s top film prize helped kick off the Haugesund Film Festival and [...]

  • Editorial use onlyMandatory Credit: Photo by

    Richard Williams, 'Who Framed Roger Rabbit' Animator, Dies at 86

    Renowned animator Richard Williams, best known for his work on “Who Framed Roger Rabbit,” died Friday at his home in Bristol, England, Variety has confirmed. He was 86. Williams was a distinguished animator, director, producer, author and teacher whose work has garnered three Oscars and three BAFTA Awards. In addition to his groundbreaking work as [...]

  • Instinct

    Locarno Film Review: 'Instinct'

    Now that “Game of Thrones” has finally reached its conclusion, releasing its gifted international ensemble into the casting wilds, will Hollywood remember just what it has in Carice van Houten? It’s not that the statuesque Dutch thesp hasn’t been consistently employed since her startling 2006 breakout in Paul Verhoeven’s “Black Book,” or even that she’s [...]

  • Good Boys Movie

    Box Office: 'Good Boys' Eyes Best Original Comedy Opening of 2019

    Universal’s “Good Boys” is surpassing expectations as it heads toward an estimated $20.8 million opening weekend at the domestic box office following $8.3 million in Friday ticket sales. That’s well above earlier estimates which placed the film in the $12 million to $15 million range, marking the first R-rated comedy to open at No. 1 [...]

More From Our Brands

Access exclusive content