The story of the infamous suicide cult Heaven's Gate will be further explored in an upcoming docuseries on HBO Max. Inspired by the "Heaven's Gate" podcast series on Stitcher, the four-part docuseries will be produced by CNN Originals exclusively for WarnerMedia's upcoming streaming service. "Two years since its initial launch, Heaven's Gate remains an enduring hit within the Stitcher catalog," says Stitcher CEO Erik Diehn in a statement. He adds: "We are thrilled that the original reporting for this series will serve as the framework for telling the story from behind the camera lens to reach even more engaged audiences."
Heaven's Gate will tell the story of the "infamous religious movement and the stranger-than-fiction circumstances that culminated in the biggest mass suicide to ever take place on U.S. soil." Other TV specials and literary works have delved into the tragic tale of the cult, but the HBO Max series will feature some new details, as the four-part series will feature interviews with former members of the cult and others who were directly involved and closely affected by the group. Clay Tweel (Out of Omaha) is directing and executive producing. Ross Dinerstein's production company Campfire is producing the project, along with Chris Bannon, Eric Spiegelman, Peter Clowney, and Erik Diehn for Stitcher.
Founded in 1974, the religious movement was headed by Marshall Applewhite and Bonnie Nettles, also known to their followers by their aliases "Ti" and "Do." According to the two, they had higher-level minds than other people, believing themselves to be the two witnesses described in the Book of Revelation. Additionally, Applewhite also referred to himself as a reincarnated version of Jesus Christ, a belief which all of his followers shared. They also believed themselves to be extraterrestrials held prisoner in human bodies, and by shedding everything that kept them "human," they would be able to move on to what Applewhite called the Next Level, or, the Kingdom of Heaven.
Although the Heaven's Gate cult had made national news for their unusual way of life, the group is obviously much more well-remembered for the horrifying way their story ends. In 1997, over a decade after Nettles' natural death, Apptlewhite and 38 of his followers were found dead as the result of an apparent mass suicide. According to recordings made by the group prior to the incident, the cultists believed a spaceship was traveling towards Earth behind the Hale-Bopp comet to pick them up, and committing suicide was their only chance to return to escape in their true form before the planet was "recycled." Each member of the group wore identical black outfits with a purple cloth draped over each corpse.
To find out more about the Heaven's Gate cult ahead of the release of the docuseries on HBO Max, you can listen to the original podcast over on Stitcher. The group may not be the deadliest suicide cult in history, but they're certainly among the most interesting, and it will make for a compelling watch to learn more about the infamous organization. This news comes to us courtesy of The Hollywood Reporter.