Netflix has released the official trailer for its upcoming documentary FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened. During the 2017 music festival disaster, attendees were sold an exclusive luxury event experience in the Bahamas, only to be met with food shortages, shoddy accommodations, extreme weather, and extensive delays getting off the island before the event was finally canceled.
When it was first announced, the Fyre Festival - orchestrated by rapper Ja Rule and entrepreneur Billy McFarland - seemed like a winning idea. High-profile music festivals like Coachella, Ultra Music, and Tomorrowland attract thousands from around the world, rapidly sell out, dominate social media, and earn millions in revenue. Fyre was promoted by Instagram superstars like Kendall Jenner and Emily Ratajkowski, and a lineup of a notable music groups like Major Laser, Blink 182, and Disclosure were rumored to be appearing. What followed became a global spectacle when attendees - many of whom were social media influencers - immediately began posting about the squalor conditions, including the now infamous "saddest sandwich in the history of sandwiches" image. Ja Rule faced multiple lawsuits, and McFarland was eventually charged with investor fraud and given a six year prison sentence.
Chris Smith's (Jim & Andy: The Great Beyond) vision for the Netflix documentary reportedly began with an exploration of the festival, but it quickly expanded once the cumulative stories of the attendees, event staff, and investors leading up to and during the event took on a life of its own. Check out the trailer and poster (via: EW) below:
According Smith, McFarland was initially in talks to appear in the documentary. He'd also asked to be compensated for appearing, and the interview was never scheduled prior to his sentencing. The story behind the scam ended up being so layered that Smith even reportedly considered developing it as a full docuseries, but noted, "In the end, we just felt that the feature was stronger, that the story and this event and the character study all felt very contained.”
Smith's implied use of the Fyre Festival scandal as a metaphor for how social media itself can perpetuate a picture-perfect lie falls into a broader trend of dissecting cultural obsessions with likes and followers through documentary formats. Netflix has already explored the success of social media stars Miranda Sings and Cameron Dallas through the series Haters Back Off and Chasing Cameron, respectively. The 2018 documentary The American Meme went so far as to explore how addiction to social media fame can affect a person's mental health. Much as how 2010's Inside Job and 2005's Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room explored vulnerability and corruption, Smith's new feature film will shed light on how the greatest party that never happened was built to fail.
FYRE: The Greatest Party That Never Happened will release on January 18, 2019 on Netflix.