Hulu leapfrogged Netflix in January when it dropped its documentary on the Fyre Festival but content chief Craig Erwich urged that this was not a “dig” at its SVOD rival.
“We had our documentary in the works for well over a year and we were aware of the other film. When the release date of that other film became clear, we moved very quickly with our finished film to get out ahead of them. We felt that given the story, we really wanted to be first with what we felt was the definitive account, it wasn’t meant as a dig at anyone else, it was just important that we went first. I’m pleased with not only the creative success of our film, but between our film and the Netflix film, it really became a cultural event and that was a blast. Watching Fyre Festival explode, the memes, the way the internet culture took it and ran with it, that was a joy,” he said.
Hulu had a four day start over Netflix on its film, which told the story of the catastrophic music festival. Fyre Fraud also featured a post-festival interview with McFarland, who is serving a six-year prison term after pleading guilty to wire fraud. It was directed by Jenner Furst and Julia Willoughby Nason and backed by The Cinemart, Mic and Billboard. Netflix’s film is directed by Chris Smith, who is known for American Movie and Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond and is backed by Vice Studios, Jerry Media and Library Films.
Erwich also revealed that the platform will continue to be “aggressive” in terms of picking up documentaries at film festivals. This comes after it picked up The Untitled Amazing Johnathan Documentary at Sundance and ahead of its premiere of Ask Dr. Ruth.
He also said that it would continue to work closely with theatrical distributors including Annapurna Pictures, Neon and Magnolia. Erwich said that theatrical windows can be very useful to create buzz and that it would continue to embrace this. It seems to have paid off after Hulu scored its first ever nomination from the Academy of Motion Pictures Arts and Sciences for its Minding The Gap documentary.