Amanda Knox could make fortune from story: Experts

LOS ANGELES - US student Amanda Knox could make millions of dollars if she decides to sell her story in book, television and even big-screen movie rights, according to industry experts.

While her family has said little about her plans - mostly suggesting she wants to spend some time away from the limelight to readjust to freedom - experts agree she is sitting on a goldmine.

"Amanda Knox is going to be big, because she is so young and she's so all-American looking, and we go by how things look," said Charlotte Gusay, a Los Angeles literary agent, after the 24-year-old arrived home Tuesday.

"I suspect she'll get a lot of money. She's gonna get book deals, she's gonna get movie deals .. she will go on tours, she will be asked on the top shows, if she wants to," she told AFP.

A still-tearful Knox arrived back in Seattle with her family, a day after being acquitted Monday of murder and rape charges and freed from an Italy jail, where she had spent four years.

At a brief press appearance at the airport, she put the focus on getting her normal life back. "My family's the most important thing to me right now. I just want to go be with them," she said.

But Sandra Dijkstra, who runs one of the biggest literary agencies on the West Coast in San Diego, said Knox's life story could go straight to the top of the bestseller list.

"I have to imagine that there have been agents already in contact with the family and with her lawyers saying that if she gets free, they want to handle this," she said

"I think it will be a very big book, also because it's a happy ending story. And in our times, people are looking for happy ending stories. She has a good-looking face, a lovely smile and she's been through an ordeal."

Gusay said that if Knox recounts her full story - with or without a ghost writer - rights to it alone could reach US$1.5 million (S$2 million).

"I would guess that if she has a really good book that really tells the inside story, she'll get somewhere between high six digits and a million and a half dollars," she said.

Dijkstra said a book could earn her "several million dollars, with world rights included."

On the movie front, experts say television would be more logical than big-screen rights.

"In terms of movies, it's very questionable, it's 50/50. It takes about two years to make a movie in Hollywood," said Ed Epstein, a writer and expert on the economics of making movies in Tinsel Town.

"The issue for movies, is as big a story as Amanda Knox is today, what will she be in the year 2014?" he said.

A TV movie would be different, "because there they control the distribution, they control the release and they can make it very fast," he said.

"They could get a US$200,000 or US$300,000 option at this point and HBO or Starz could make a movie on a budget of under US10 million dollars and have a movie out by April or May when it's still a hot subject."

One potential problem on any deal could be the need for discretion because of still pending legal action in Italy - where prosecutors are expected make a final appeal against her acquittal.

"The legal question has to be resolved that she is free to tell her story without jeopardizing her future," said Dijkstra.

The question of how much public interest will drop over time is also relevant for a book deal.

"There's been such an explosion of interest at this point, publishers could say: 'Well, will people care when the book comes out a year from now?' That would be the only dark cloud," she said.

Whatever she makes from her story, no one is claiming that she will end up in profit - apart from the emotional toll, and the loss of four years of her young life, her family has spent huge amounts to secure her freedom.

There have been no official figures, but reports suggest the Knox family has spent more than a million dollars on lawyers, travel expenses and so forth, including a US$250,000 loan taken out by her grandmother alone.