Hulu has acquired the rights to the documentary feature film “The Contestant” from MRC and Misfits Entertainment. The film had its world premiere at the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival.
“The Contestant ‘is the true story of aspiring comedian Tomoaki Hamatsu, nicknamed Nasubi, whose fame kicked off in 1998 when he starred in reality competition series “Denpa Shonen: A Life in Prizes.” The show’s premise left Nasubi naked in a room for more than a year and tasked him with filling out magazine sweepstakes to earn food, but he had no idea he was becoming the most famous TV star in Japan as the series broadcast to more than 15 million people.
“My Life in Prizes, that was very much cruel,” Nasubi told Deadline earlier this month. “The only thing I could do is to write and mail in to win the sweepstakes. There is no happiness of my life. There is no freedom… But that was not edited into the program, that was not shown. Maybe three or five minutes a week out of my life [were shown]. And that was edited to highlight my happiness when I won [a prize]. Of course, viewers would say, ‘Oh, see, he’s doing something fun and something that he’s enjoying…’ But the majority of my life was suffering.”
“In the beginning, the people working on the television show really kind of created all the loneliness for me,” Nasubi told Deadline. “I really felt cornered. And then I felt that’s really scary, how humans can do that to other people.”
“The Contestant” was produced by Misfits Entertainment, Megumi Inman, Andee Ryder and Ian Bonhote.
A Hulu release date for the film has not been announced yet.