Wednesday, August 10, 2011


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.


  1. Absolutely: this way Colt can serve his time, pay most or all of his restitution and then be able to get on with his life, hopefully channeling his curiosity and intelligence in a positive direction.

    Your book will be out before the movie, I hope??


  2. Yes, the book will be out in hardcover and e-book well before the potential movie is released. (I say "potential" because movies are never a done deal until the cameras start rolling, and even then it's not a sure thing.)

  3. Bob, is it likely that whatever sum of money 20th Century Fox has agreed to with Colton would only be paid out if and when production on the film actually starts? Or is the money probably more like a 'signing bonus' that's guaranteed and immediate, with, maybe, something more to come if/when the film becomes a reality?

    From your answer to Kate's comments above, if the payment is contingent on the movie's production going forward, then it sounds like the victims may have to wait quite a bit longer before they see any compensation.

    And one other question out of curiosity...does anyone know what the "A" in Colton A. Harris-Moore stands for?

  4. Yes: Movie money is usually paid in options. A partial amount is paid upfront and then the rest if and when the cameras roll or when other milestones are reached.

  5. When is the book coming out? I feel like i've been waiting forever, i would like to get my hands on this book before the world ends, bob. Haha.

  6. Part of Colt's persona is his size...Zac Efron is reportedly rather short. Will that work?

  7. I hear ya. I still want to wait until the final sentencing, though, or else it's not really the complete story. Thanks for being patient!

  8. Sorry Ned, forgot to answer the second part of your question: As far as what Colton's birth certificate says, the "A" is for... "A"

  9. Hmmm...well it certainly seems like Colton is "A Harris-Moore", quite possibly now "THE Harris-Moore".

    "A" is a solid middle name; it's a nice letter and it's definitely easy to spell. And, maybe someday Colt can say that it stands for "Aviator", that it was pure destiny.

  10. Bob, have the other states decided yet how they will proceed with their own charges against Colt?

  11. All charges* outside of Washington were taken care of within the federal plea agreement. The asterisk is for a Wyoming prosecutor that originally held out from joining the plea. His two charges, though, may no longer be a factor. The big deal on dozens of Washington State charges will be brought before a judge in September.

  12. Hi Bob,
    The last I heard, Colton was tentatively due in Island County Court some time in September, and his federal sentencing was estimated to be some time in October. Are you able to update us on where things stand now?

  13. I've been away on a couple of assignments but timed them to make it back to Washington in time for Colt's Island County court date in mid-September... which has now been pushed back -- for the third time -- to "mid-October."

    The judge's ruling on the federal plea deal is set for November.

    Again, it looks like Colt will receive more time from the state charges than the federal. As of last week, the state deal had unraveled a bit, with Skagit County threatening to pull out of the agreement. Skagit has one charge against Colt that would appear pretty strong: Stealing a Cirrus airplane and flying it to Orcas Island. Court docs show investigators claim to have tied Colt to the plane via a fingerprint.

    It's hard to say at this point, though, what effect this would have on Colt's overall sentence if Skagit decides to charge him on their own.

  14. Hi Bob,
    I just wanted to drop you a comment telling you how much I love & appreciate your blog! I've just started following Colt's story in the beginning of this year, (a little late) and like a lot of people, I'm completely fascinated. (I'm not sure what's the right word for it) I find your blog is one of the best out there relating to Colton's story, although the cliff hangers you give us can be highly frustrating!!! (Haha) I'm looking forward to your book and I have a feeling once I get it in my hands I won't be able to put it down until it's finished!

    When I first heard about Colton I just thought "Oh he's just another punk kid making trouble", but then when I actually started learning about his story I was completely blown away by him. Of course I'd never condone anything he did, but with that being said, I can't help but applaud the street smarts and bravery he has shown through out his life. I couldn't imaging doing half the things that's been reported. (Heck, I'm 21 and I'm STILL hesitant to get my drivers license). From what I've read so far ,it does seem like Colton is a good guy and sometimes I feel like I can relate to him in a few ways. (maybe it's the similarity in age) I adore his love for animals. I was raised in the dog show world and I know it takes a good heart to want to take care/help animals. I like reading about Colton himself, not just his bandit persona. He seems like such an interesting person to begin with and I hope to learn more about him. I know there are a lot of people in this world who would just love to be in his presence and I can't help but be one of them.

    I have so much belief in Colton and I hope he can really turn his life around when this chapter is all over! He has so much intelligence and passion and if he is serious about getting on a better path, I think he could create a decent life for himself. He deserves to be happy and surrounded by positive people and love. I hope he gets it!! I'm sorry this comment probably sounds like a broken record. You've heard all this before, but I couldn't help myself from posting. I'm also sorry this is a bit longer than I originally planned. Once I start talking about Colton, it's hard for me to stop. (haha) Again, I can't wait for the book to come out! I'm biting my nails in anticipation! :)