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Hulu sees Clooney’s Catch-22 as ammunition in Netflix fight

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HULU LLC touted its new lineup of original programming, including shows based on Marvel superheroes and collaborations with stars such as Leonardo DiCaprio and George Clooney, as the streaming service looks to build momentum in its war with Netflix Inc.

Craig Erwich, the head of original content at Hulu, called the video-streaming service the “fastest-growing on-demand platform in the US” It added 8 million customers last year, a nearly 50% increase.

“We have more episodes of TV than anyone,” he said Monday during the biannual presentations made by networks before the Television Critics Association. “Hulu is the complete package.”

The service, which is owned by Walt Disney Co., 21st Century Fox Inc., Comcast Corp., and AT&T Inc., began as a way for networks to provide online viewing for their in-season shows after their original air date. In recent years, it has branched out into original productions and will play an increasing role in the streaming universe after Disney takes majority control following its acquisition of Fox’s entertainment assets in coming weeks.

Last month, the service announced it was cutting the price of its most-popular plan by $2 to $6 a month.

CATCH-22
Catch-22, a miniseries that debuts May 17, was produced in collaboration with Viacom Inc.’s Paramount TV. Mr. Clooney, who produced, directed, and stars in the series, said he’s looking to do more TV shows, underscoring how some of Hollywood’s most bankable actors are flocking to the medium.




“When you do a movie you don’t have enough time to get to know the characters,” he said at the TCA event. “That’s why you do a television show. I don’t care about the medium — I really don’t. I just care about the quality of the work and the kinds of things we are able to do. Television is doing some really amazing things. We just want to work.”

Hulu also announced an adaptation of the true-life serial-killer book The Devil in the White City, in collaboration with Mr. DiCaprio. It’s also making four new animated Marvel series, featuring talent such as comedian Chelsea Handler and director Kevin Smith. One of them, a Howard the Duck show, will revive a character from one of Hollywood’s most notorious bombs: The 1986 film was a critical and commercial failure, though it later gained a cult following.

Mr. Erwin said Hulu rushed out its own documentary about the ill-fated Fyre music festival to beat a competing documentary from Netflix to market last month. He said having both series airing ended up heightening interest in the topic. The Hulu film has been the No. 1 movie on the streaming service since its release.

“We greatly wanted to be first with the definitive account, not just a dig at our competitor,” he said. “It became a cultural event.” — Bloomberg

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