Netflix was tipped off that Hulu would surprise-release its Fyre Festival documentary first but wasn't concerned

billy mcfarland ja rule fyreFyre Festival cofounders Billy McFarland and Ja Rule speak at the MusicNotes Conference in November 2016.MusicNotes Conf/Facebook

  • The director of Netflix's Fyre Festival documentary, Chris Smith, told Business Insider that he was tipped off that Hulu was going to release its Fyre doc ahead of his movie's release.
  • Smith said when he told Netflix what Hulu was planning "it just wasn't an issue to them," as the company stayed focused on its global release on Friday.
  • According to Google Trends, there's more interest in Netflix's "Fyre" (available Friday) than Hulu's "Fyre Fraud" (now available).

Hulu shocked many by surprise-releasing its documentary on the infamous Fyre Festival four days before the long-planned release of Netflix's Fyre doc. But it wasn't a shock to director Chris Smith.

Smith, who directed Netflix's "Fyre: The Greatest Party That Never Happened" (available on Friday), told Business Insider on Tuesday that he and his team were tipped off about what Hulu was doing.

"We knew it was coming and I brought it up with Netflix and it just wasn't an issue to them," Smith said.

In the movie world, generally when two titles are coming out that cover the same topic, it's a mad dash to get to audiences first, as that first project usually gets the most attention. But that pertains to theatrical releases. It's a whole different ballgame in the streaming world.

Read more: The disgraced organizer of the Fyre Festival reportedly asked for $250,000 to be interviewed for Hulu's new documentary about the fiasco

Unlike theatrical releases, which have grosses reported to the public every weekend, viewership numbers for either Fyre movie will likely never be made public (unless the figures are huge). And because of that, there seems to be no panic by Netflix to change its strategy.

And there's also the streaming giant's reach.

Though Hulu has around 25 million subscribers and is gaining a little ground on Netflix in the US, globally Netflix is still king with 137 million subscribers worldwide.

"With Netflix the reach is so far in so many countries that our focus just remained staying with the original plan - a global launch," Smith said.

Christ Smith Christopher Polk GettyChristopher Polk/Getty

The Fyre Festival was a 2017 event in the Bahamas coordinated by entrepreneur Billy McFarland, who is currently serving six years in prison for wire fraud. Attendees paid up to $25,000 for elaborate accommodations, but when they arrived, they found little food and none of the artists that were promised, including Blink-182 and Migos.

Despite Hulu's "Fyre Fraud," directed by Jenner Furst and Julia Willoughby Nason, getting out of the gate first, there seems to be more interest in Netflix's "Fyre" when looking at Google search interest on the topic from Google Trends.

This might be part of the reason why Netflix didn't bat an eye when Hulu jumped its release.

"Netflix has done a lot of things right over the last few years and their reach in general is so much broader," Smith said. "A lot of people I know are like, 'I have Hulu and I don't even know how to open it up, I forgot my password.' Netflix has become ubiquitous with television, so for us [the Hulu release] wasn't that much of a big deal because we just knew that so many more people are going to see it on Netflix."

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