Hulu Picks Up Doc ‘The Contestant,’ About ‘Truman Show’-Like Scenario for Unknowing Reality Show Winner

The MRC and Misfits Entertainment’s feature film, which will launch on the streamer in 2024, tells the true story behind 1998’s “Denpa Shonen: A Life in Prizes”

The Contestant
"The Contestant" (Courtesy of TIFF)

Hulu has acquired the rights to MRC and Misfits Entertainment’s documentary feature film “The Contestant,” which will launch on the streamer in 2024.

The project, which premiered at the 2023 Toronto International Film Festival, tells the 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. 

The film explores one of the first extreme reality shows that pushed boundaries and gave rise to an explosion of the genre worldwide.

It also reveals the true story behind the series with director Clair Titley drawing key insights from both the show’s producer, Toshio Tsuchiya, who was always willing to push his contestant to the brink, and Nasubi himself, whose life was irrevocably changed by the experience.

In addition to Mistfits Entertainment, “The Contestant” was produced by Megumi Inman, Andee Ryder and Ian Bonhote. 

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