Despite their (very public) mutual love fest that played out on social media in early January, Hulu just scooped one of Netflix’s upcoming projects in a big way.
The streaming service announced Monday it surprise-released a feature documentary film about the ill-fated 2017 Fyre Festival fiasco four days before the planned release date of Netflix’s documentary about the same subject.
Directed by Emmy-nominated and Peabody-winning filmmakers Jenner Furst and Julia Willoughby Nason, Hulu’s Fyre Fraud features an exclusive interview with Billy McFarland, the entrepreneur who co-founded the failed Bahamas-based music event with rapper Ja Rule and was later sentenced to six years in jail for defrauding investors.
A press release calls the film a “true-crime comedy bolstered by a cast of whistleblowers, victims, and insiders going beyond the spectacle to uncover the power of FOMO and an ecosystem of enablers, driven by profit and a lack of accountability in the digital age.”
In a director’s statement, Furst and Willoughby Nason write that McFarland possesses the “insidious charm of the fraudster” and exemplifies “how they can capture our imaginations, our investment, and our votes in the age of Trump.”
In the film’s trailer, McFarland seemingly admits he was willing to do “whatever it takes” and go “all in” to make the event happen.
McFarland was reportedly set to appear in Netflix’s Fyre Festival documentary Fyre, though director Chris Smith told EW via an email provided through Netflix that “Billy wanted to get paid” for appearing in the project, and the filmmakers ultimately “didn’t feel comfortable with him benefiting after so many people were hurt as a consequence of his actions.”
Though his Fyre Festival was initially touted as featuring luxury accommodations and catered meals, attendees — who paid between $1,500 and $12,000 for tickets, some of which promised VIP passes with yacht access — shared photos of cheese sandwiches and hurricane tents lining unkempt beaches upon their arrival. Subsequently, a $100 million class-action lawsuit was proposed by celebrity attorney Mark Geragos on behalf of his client Daniel Jung, who claimed the “festival’s lack of adequate food, water, shelter and medical care created a dangerous and panicked situation among attendees — suddenly finding themselves stranded on a remote island without basic provisions — that was closer to The Hunger Games or Lord of the Flies than Coachella.”
Hulu’s Fyre Fraud is now available on the streaming service, while Netflix’s Fyre premieres Friday, Jan. 18.