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Daniel Morcombe’s parents condemn new movie The Stranger as ‘morally corrupt’


The parents of murdered boy Daniel Morcombe have slammed a new movie inspired by the investigation into the death of their son calling it “callously disrespectful” and “a low act”.

The Stranger premiered at Cannes earlier this year and will play at the Melbourne International Film Festival in August.

The film stars Joel Edgerton and Sean Harris and is written and directed by Thomas M Wright and tells the story of a fictional detective trying to a catch a killer in Australia. It is based on the decade-long investigation by police that led to the arrest of Daniel’s killer, Brett Peter Cowan.

Thirteen-year-old Daniel was abducted and murdered on the Sunshine Coast in December 2003. Cowan was convicted of murder.

The movie’s synopsis reads: “Two men who meet on a plane and strike up a conversation that turns into friendship. For Henry Teague, worn down by a lifetime of physical labour and crime, this is a dream come true.”

According to a May 2022 Variety article, Edgerton, also a producer on The Stranger, optioned Kate Kyriacou’s book The Sting: The Undercover Operation that Caught Daniel Morcombe’s Killer.



But Denise and Bruce Morcombe have described those involved in the film as "parasites”.

“What a low act! I won’t be going to watch this movie. I won’t be recommending anyone go. The movie is not supported or sanctioned in any way by the Morcombe family,” they say.

“They have in my view been disrespectful to Daniel, his legacy and the Morcombe family. I question the investors, producers, directors, cast and crew’s personal values and judgment.

“I won’t endorse it, because this is a very painful reminder for our family which triggers unimaginable personal hurt.

“Next year will mark 20 years since we lost Daniel. The passage of time does not make it any easier. Personally, I find the making of this movie morally corrupt and a cruel, callous, selfish cash grab by all involved. Shame on you.

“I recommend the public stay away from it and either save their money or consider donating it to the Daniel Morcombe Foundation.”

The producers of the film released a statement after the Morcombe’s comments.

“The Stranger is a fictionalised account of the undercover police operation that resulted in a successful murder prosecution," they say.

“Out of our deepest respect for the family, the name of the victim is never mentioned in the film and the film does not depict any details of the murder. Nor is the family represented in the film in any way.

“Instead, it tells the story of the unknown police professionals who committed years of their lives and their mental and physical health to resolve this case and others like it.

“When the film was first in development, the producers approached the family to make them aware of the film. They declined to be involved. It is a decision we continue to respect.”