Betty and Barney Hill were the alleged victims of the world’s first documented alien abduction case
Gotham/Principal, producers of this Friday’s Maze Runner: The Scorch Trials, has partnered with WGA award-winners Bryce Zabel and Jackie Zabel and their Stellar Productions to produce Captured, based on the rights to the first reported alien abduction that took place 54 years ago this week.
Captured tells the story of Betty and Barney Hill, an interracial couple from Portsmouth, New Hampshire who said they were captured by a UFO the night of September 19, 1961. A black postal clerk and a white social worker, the Hills claimed that, during the alien abduction, they had been studied by extraterrestrial creature, and then returned to their lives with missing memories that were later retrieved under hypnosis.
The script, to be written by veteran writer/producer Bryce Zabel, will be 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. That book contains new information and personal details about the case, and the movie will place the events 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,” says 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. We look forward to sharing Betty and Barney Hill’s incredible encounter with audiences all around the world.”
“Betty and Barney were two down-to-Earth people who found themselves in a situation that was literally out-of-this-world,” says Bryce Zabel, the TV creator of the NBC/Sony alien cult-hit Dark Skies, “Ironically, at the time of their abduction, while the country was focused on deeply divided racial issues, it seems like only the aliens never reacted to the color of their skin.”
“The Hills were very much a part of the times they lived in,” says Stellar CEO Jackie Zabel. “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. What they knew and why they were targeted will make for a phenomenal film.”
A former CNN correspondent, screenwriter Bryce Zabel, is among Hollywood’s leading experts on UFOs. 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. A former CEO/Chairman of the Television Academy, Zabel is also an adjunct professor at the USC School of Cinematic Arts where he teaches two advanced courses about writing hour TV dramas.
The Betty and Barney Hill alien abduction case was previously adapted for the small screen as a 1975 telefilm, The UFO Incident, which stars James Earl Jones in the Barney Hill role.