A local Seattle TV station is reporting today that a deal has been reached between Colton and 20th Century Fox to acquire his life rights for a feature film. The price, according to Q13Fox, is $1.3 million.
As per the conditions of Colton’s federal plea agreement, every penny of his proceeds will go to pay restitution to his victims. Colt released a statement saying that paying the restitution was the only reason he agreed to the film deal. He also said he hoped that the first payout would go to the owners of Verne’s Bayside here on Orcas Island.
Regular readers will recognize the name Verne’s and it’s owners Belinda Landon and her family, including daughter Marion Rathbone who managed the restaurant. Colt broke into Verne’s three times – once to use Belinda’s credit cards to order spy cameras and flight training manuals, once to pick up his package and then smash open the safe to take some $18,000 in cash, and a third time when he came back to try the safe again in 2010. After 16 years as a fixture on Eastsound’s Main Street, Verne’s went out of business early this year.
The working title of the film is “Taking Flight,” and it will be based on my book (which was originally titled “Taking Flight,” but is now called “The Barefoot Bandit”) and on interviews with Colt. There’s already a first draft of the script by Oscar-winning screenwriter Lance Black, who recently wrapped up work on Clint Eastwood’s biopic of J. Edgar Hoover. This deal with Colt means Lance can complete the next draft, and eventually director David Gordon Green can move it into production. As I’ve written here before, it’s a bit nerve-wracking to have a book you’ve worked on so hard and for so long sent off to Hollywood to be pulled apart and projected onscreen. I’ve spent quite a bit of time with Lance Black, though, and I trust that he’s handling the story appropriately.
The size of Colt’s life rights deal is surprising – everyone thinks these kinds of deals are worth huge bucks, but they usually aren’t. It’s close to covering the losses suffered by his victims, which is a great thing. If Colt had simply done his time without making a media deal like this, the government would have docked his paychecks for the rest of his life, and victims would have received a few dollars a month forever. Much better they can get their restitution in one quick chunk.