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SYFY WIRE Stranger Things

'Stranger Things 4' also very expensive thing as Netflix spends $30 million per episode

That’s one whopper of a 1980s shopping spree at Hawkins' Starcourt Mall.

By Benjamin Bullard

Thanks to an ensemble celebrity cast and lavish location shoots that can take over an entire mall, Stranger Things has always had the feel of a big-budget, Steven Spielberg-inspired show. But the Hawkins arcade would need to collect more than just a truckload of quarters to cover the eye-popping cost of the series’ long-awaited fourth season.

A recent report at The Wall Street Journal reveals that Netflix is turning its wallet Upside Down and inside out to bring Stranger Things 4 to life, spending an average of $30 million on each of the smash hit series’ nine new episodes. That far eclipses the princely $13 million per-episode sum commanded by Season 4 of The Crown, the previously-reported most expensive show in the streamer’s original-series lineup.

For additional comparison, it’s also roughly double the reported $15 million per-episode layout that HBO made for Game of Thrones fiery Season 8 series finale back in 2019. Like GoT, though, Stranger Things stands out as a tentpole series for its home platform, so there’s a certain logic in raiding the couch cushions to use up every spare dime: The Stranger Things 3 season finale roped in a whopping 64 million viewers in its first four weeks on Netflix, according to numbers reported by Deadline.

Cast members already have been teasing the new season’s bigger and scarier vibe, with Finn Wolfhard (Mike) recently comparing the fourth season to the Harry Potter film franchise’s progressive shift toward a more epically dark fantasy feel. And executive producer Shawn Levy left no doubt last year about ST4’s go-for-broke story goals: “[W]e chose Season 4 to be by far — and I mean, by far, far, far — the most ambitious of the seasons,” he revealed.

The big-budget feel (not to mention the creepier horror-infused tone) is definitely baked into the new Stranger Things 4 trailer that Netflix unveiled earlier this month. Backdropped by a tense, appropriately-1980s remix of Journey’s “Separate Ways (Worlds Apart),” it’s a moody pastiche of high-stakes dimensional sleuthing that features plenty of explosions, creature effects, and a nerve-wracking plane crash — not to mention an overall teen-horror tone that feels right at home alongside the vintage Spielberg adventure movies that helped inspire series creators the Duffer brothers.

The news of Netflix’s big Stranger Things spend comes amid a turbulent moment for the streamer, as the company’s stock fell this week on word of a shortfall in projected new subscription numbers. It’s probably safe to say, though, that a flagship series like Stranger Things — already announced to end with its fifth season — isn’t the place to start pinching pennies. Set to arrive in two “Volume” installments this summer, watch for the debut Season 4, Volume 1 batch of pricey Stranger Things episodes to arrive beginning May 27, followed by the July 1 debut of Volume 2.

While we wait for Stranger Things 4 to scare us to death, a fresh take on Stephen King's Firestarter (which heavily inspired the vibe of Stranger Things) opens in theaters and hits Peacock on May 13.