An Italian appeals court overturned Amanda Knox’s murder conviction on Monday, allowing the Seattle native to return to the United States, nearly two years after she and her then-boyfriend Raffaele Sollecito were accused of murdering her college roommate, Meredith Kercher.
And along with freedom could come a small fortune.
“Unlike Casey Anthony, who has essentially become public enemy number one since her acquittal, Amanda Knox has garnered tremendous public sympathy, mostly due to what many perceive as her being the victim of a corrupt criminal justice system. While the murder of Meredith Kercher was tragic, the general consensus is that Knox had little if anything to do with it,” California-based criminal defense attorney, David Wohl, told FOX411’s Pop Tarts column. “Her story will fetch top dollar. The first interview will likely go for anywhere from $1 to $5 million. I expect that book and movie rights will add substantially to that – tens of millions of dollars.”
If Knox, 24, is going to cash in on her experience, she also needs to ink that first interview contract quick.
“It's important for her to strike while the iron is hot, which means within two weeks after her release,” Wohl said. And even though the murder and subsequent conviction and trial took place overseas, crisis management and media expert Glenn Selig said the U.S. media still faces the same ethical dilemma of paying for stories.
“With network news organizations now on the record saying they won’t pay, my guess is an interview will be tied into some entertainment production. This will certainly be a one hour or two hour prime time special, and I am certain the network news shows have been working this one for a while,” he said. “A crime took place – but the courts ruled that she didn’t do it. A news outlet paying money is a danger zone, regardless. But if they were willing to push the envelope and figure out a way to pay, this is exactly the type of case where they would push it to make it happen. When it involves someone who is despised or controversial, there’s the possibility of a negative backlash.”
Jason W. Maloni, Senior Vice President at Levick Strategic Communications, says Knox’s story has all the ingredients that Hollywood loves.
“Knox’s story is compelling and has a lot of legs – she’s a young, attractive woman caught up in story that involve sex, race, murder and international intrigue. The book and subsequent movie practically write themselves,” he explained. “She can immediately sell her story and she’d be wise to donate a portion of any proceeds to a legal defense fund for U.S. victims of criminal allegations overseas. But I would counsel her to avoid tabloids altogether and instead have her story told in a reputable magazine article and get a well-regarded documentary filmmaker to tell this story for HBO.”
Knox’s appeals court appearance this week drew even more eyeballs to the high-profile case. Immediately following Monday’s ruling, the term “foxy knoxy” became one of the top trending topics on the social networking site Twitter.
“As much as people sometimes don’t want to say it and others don’t want to hear it, being young and pretty makes Amanda Knox’s story more marketable and more valuable,” Selig said. “She is sympathetic, pretty and is very all-American. It’s a story where the truth is stranger than fiction. So it will be worth a lot. And not only is this a U.S. story, but an international one.”
Indeed Hollywood didn’t even wait for Knox’s appeal to be heard before making a movie about her. Lifetime aired "Amanda Knox: Murder On Trial In Italy” starring Hayden Panettiere earlier this year. And chances are it’s only a matter of time before the likes of “CSI” or “Law & Order” bring to life their own twist of Knox-related events.
And even though Knox was acquitted of her murder charges, she has to be very careful to uphold her sense of innocence in the eyes of the American public.
“If the public believes she is innocent, which based on the U.S. coverage they clearly will, they will perceive her as a victim of the Italian justice system who deserves to make money for the hell she has been through. If she is a kind, gentle soul and is the person she has been portrayed to be by her family who were fighting for her freedom, the best advice I would have for her to simply be herself and she will be just fine,” Selig added. “But she must be very careful to not say anything in public to reinforce anyone’s beliefs that she got away with anything. There will always be people who believe that she got away with it, but she must do everything she can to refrain from offering anything that could support that notion any way whatsoever.”