Life imitates satire.
The Korean survival drama “Squid Game” captured the world’s attention when it hit Netflix
last year. The fictional series pit desperate men and women on the verge of financial ruin against each other in a deadly battle royale for roughly $38 million (45.6 billion won). It struck a chord with viewers by tapping into the financial pain and income inequality much of the world was grappling with in the midst of the COVID-19 pandemic. Plus, the bright costumes and visuals were instantly iconic.
It became one of Netflix’s most popular series of all time, with more than 1.65 billion viewing hours in the first 28 days after its September 2021 premiere, Netflix said. “Squid Game” is reportedly worth nearly $900 million to the streaming service.
So it was only a matter of time before the dystopian series became a real-life reality show. In fact, there were scattered reports of “Squid Game”-inspired competitive events at bars and restaurants in the wake of the show’s success.
But this is the big (and officially licensed) one.
Netflix announced Tuesday that it’s given the green light to a new “Squid Game: The Challenge” series — which it’s calling “the biggest reality competition ever” — with an open casting call for contestants at SquidGameCasting.com. While the stakes won’t be as high as life-and-death like they were on the original show, there is a record-setting $4.56 million prize and 456 players. (The Hollywood Reporter notes that Fox’s “X-Factor” has given out recording contracts worth $5 million, however.)
“’Squid Game’ took the world by storm with director Hwang [Dong-hyuk’s] captivating story and iconic imagery,” said Brandon Riegg, the Netflix vice president of unscripted and documentary series, in a statement. “Fans of the drama series are in for a fascinating and unpredictable journey as our 456 real world contestants navigate the biggest competition series ever, full of tension and twists, with the biggest-ever cash prize at the end.”
The 10-episode reality competition will feature 456 contestants competing in a series of games inspired by the original show, which had shown the fictional competitors playing playground pastimes like “Red Light, Green Light” and tug-of-war with fatal results for the losers. The Netflix announcement teased some “surprising new additions,” and suggested the players would see their strategies, alliances and characters “put to the test” while competitors are eliminated around them, similar to the show. (Except this time, elimination won’t mean death.)
The open casting call is looking for English-language speakers from any part of the world. The U.S. casting site, in particular, requires all potential players be at least 21 years old, and have the right to legally reside in the U.S. They must be available to participate in the program for up to four weeks, which is anticipated to be in early 2023, although this could change. And they need a valid passport, and the ability to travel to all locations as specified by the show’s producers. What’s more, participants cannot have worked at Netflix and/or the All3 Media Group.
And contestants need to upload a minute-long video telling the producers about themselves and why they want to be on “Squid Game: The Challenge,” along with what their game plan would be to win, and what they would do with the money if they came out on top. It also offers some tips to record a good video:
Put your phone / device in landscape mode.
Sit somewhere quiet and well lit – we want to see you!
Please do not use a filter on your video
Try not to make your video longer than 1 minute.
The requirements for U.K. and global contestants are similar.
The idea of turning this show that skewers capitalism into a reality show also sparked plenty of conversation on Twitter, which led “Squid Game” to trend throughout Tuesday afternoon. “Somehow Netflix missed the entire point of their own show,” tweeted one viewer.
The reality-show news came just a couple of days after Netflix also announced that season two of “Squid Game” is in development. “Join us once more for a whole new round,” the director wrote in a statement to fans.