The story of how Evan Spiegel came to create Snapchat is being turned into a short-form video series by Quibi, an upcoming short-form streaming service designed for mobile users that’s set to launch next year. Quibi’s name stands for “quick bites,” so all the show’s episodes will be less than 10 minutes in length.
Quibi co-founders Jeffrey Katzenberg, the former CEO of DreamWorks, and Meg Whitman, the former CEO of HP, announced the series during a South by Southwest panel today. Called Frat Boy Genius, the series will be based on a screenplay that made last year’s Black List of best unproduced films. It “follows a disgruntled employee of Snapchat who tells the story about the rise of her former Stanford classmate, ‘preeminent douchebag and current boss’ Evan Spiegel,” according to Deadline.
The goal is to produce a project similar to David Fincher’s 2010 Oscar-winning film, The Social Network, which told Facebook’s origin story and explored CEO Mark Zuckerberg’s involvement.
A number of other Quibi series were announced at the panel. A music competition series is in the works, and Quibi has teamed up with popular Spanish television network Telemundo to develop an origin series based on the characters in its popular show, El Señor de los Cielos. Quibi is also partnering with Jennifer Lopez for a “heartfelt show” designed around giving back. There will be 10 chapters in total, and Lopez will star in the first episode, Katzenberg confirmed.
Stilll, Katzenberg and Whitman spent most of the panel trying to persuade moderator and journalist Dylan Byers that their new platform would succeed. Byers pointed out that platforms like YouTube, Instagram, Facebook, and, ironically, Snapchat also boast short-form content designed for mobile. Katzenberg and Whitman hope to stand out by working with top talent to produce prestige television and movies, instead of relying on user-generated content. Katzenberg acknowledged that some people aren’t taking Quibi serious just yet, despite the company netting $1 billion from investors.
“We understand the challenge that comes with what we’re taking on,” Katzenberg said. “It’s hard to ask people their opinion about something they haven’t experienced before. We recognize how hard it is what we’re doing. What we’re setting out to do falls between improbable and impossible.”
Their goal is to turn Quibi into something that viewers check every day, and Katzenberg says that means providing them with short bites of content they see as necessary viewing. There will be two news segments a day, a separate sports highlight reel, and another show covering music news. Katzenberg is also particularly excited about a supercut of late night shows.
“I could go through 15 things that we call our daily essentials,” Katzenberg said. “But here’s one that I would pay $5 a month for: Every day, you will get up and there will be a six-and-a-half-minute ‘the best of last night’s late night’ segment. It will collect the best parts of every late night show from the night before. We can go on YouTube and go on different sites and aggregate it, but it takes too much time. This is just another part of Quibi.”
Quibi, which Byers still seemed skeptical of by the end of the panel, will launch in April 2020.