In a digital-age twist on the Hollywood phenomenon of competing movie projects (think Armageddon vs. Deep Impact or, more recently, Jungle Book vs. Mowgli: Legend of the Jungle), Hulu has leapfrogged Netflix with its take on the infamous Fyre Festival.
Hulu announced its project about the music fest’s epic 2017 meltdown, Fyre Fraud, last spring for release in 2019 but it never set a firm release date. Earlier today, knowing Netflix had set its own version, Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened, for Friday the 18th, Hulu pulled the trigger, releasing Fyre Fraud with a four-day head start.
Organized in the Bahamas by 25-year-old Fyre Media founder Billy McFarland and rapper Ja Rule, the Fyre Festival was billed as an ultra-luxury concert experience on an island in the Bahamas. But it was plagued from inception by problems with security, accommodations and fan and artist relations. It quickly descended into chaos, leaving its attendees furious and spawning numerous lawsuits. It also became a social-media phenomenon, fueled by early online promotion by many attendees and artists, who then documented the disarray.
Because data on streaming is elusive, the effect of the move won’t be as easy to immediately quantify, compared with box office results of overlapping film releases. But given the way programming is discovered through social and digital media, the move is intriguing and should be interesting for data miners to track. Plus, nearly half of all U.S. households subscribe to more than one major streaming service, meaning true Fyre obsessives can binge both versions.
The Hulu film features a post-festival interview with McFarland, who is serving a six-year prison term after pleading guilty to wire fraud. It is 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.