Netflix is turning its deadly hit series “Squid Game” into reality — with some adjustments, of course.
At the Banff World Media Festival on Tuesday, the streamer announced it had greenlit a reality competition series called “Squid Game: The Challenge.”
Like the South Korean survival drama, the 10-episode series will features 456 players compete in a series of children’s games, altered to have higher stakes, for a $4.56 million payout.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, Netflix said the series boasts both the largest monetary prize in television history and the most significant number of participants in a competition series.
Soon after the announcement, Netflix shared a link to its casting page, SquidGameCasting.com According to the page, the reality series will tap “English-language speakers from any part of the world.” Applicants must be 21 years old.
The application asks users to upload a one-minute video with a focus on their biography, why they want to be on 'Squid Game: The Challenge, what their "game plan" would be, and what they would do with a "huge cash prize." They also are instructed to upload photos.
"Squid Game: The Challenge" is a response to the South Korean drama series' massive popularity. It debuted worldwide in September 2021 and became Netflix’s most-watched series. It has been renewed for a second season.
Starring Lee Jung-jae and HoYeon Jung, the K-drama follows competitors who join the games in an attempt to bail themselves out of deep financial strains. The only way out is to win: The hyper-violent series sees people eliminated by guards, games, and each other.
Class disparity and capitalism are at the center of the series, set in a world where economic desperation pushes people to put their lives on the line.
Fan reaction to the announcement of "Squid Game: The Challenge" has been a hodgepodge of both excitement and skepticism, with some expressing their desire to join and others questioning the streamer’s decision, especially given the show's apparent critique of the actual competition.
"Cool cool quick question, did they watch the show?" one user Tweeted.
Another user called it the "antithesis" of the original show's message. "Tell me you don’t understand what 'Squid Game' is about without telling me you don’t understand what 'Squid Game' is about," someone else wrote.
"This feels so dystopian. Turning a fictional death game into a reality show," one Twitter user replied to the news.
In April of this year, the company announced that for the first time in 10 years, it had lost subscribers in a financial calendar quarter. At the time, the streamer revealed that it had lost 200,000 subscribers in its first quarter and expected to lose another 2 million in the second quarter.
One month after the announcement of subscriber losses, Netflix laid off 150 employees (less than 2% of its 11,000 staffers), citing slowing revenue growth.
One Twitter user joked that the competition series is "how Netflix is doing their next round of layoffs."
Applicants are also given the option to store their data in Netflix’s contributor database so they can be contacted for future seasons, indicating that this may be an ongoing project.