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The wait to return to Hawkins is almost over. Next week, Stranger Things will return for its fourth season on Netflix, ending an almost three-year drought since the release of Season 3 back in 2019. We've waited a long time, in part, because a global pandemic shut down production on just about everything for a while, leaving most shows with no choice but to push back their schedules a bit. But that's not the only reason Stranger Things 4 took so long to produce.
Speaking to IGN about the upcoming season, creators Matt and Ross Duffer and producer Shawn Levy revealed that Stranger Things 4 will feature the longest episodes in the history of the series. How long? Try longer than a lot of feature films, including Levy's own directorial output.
“I've released two movies in the time we've been making Season 4,” Levy said. “We have multiple episodes that are longer than both Free Guy and The Adam Project."
Stranger Things 4 will pick up six months after the events of Stranger Things 3, and will follow our heroes from Hawkins as they adjust to both the Byers family moving out of town and the dangers and wonders of high school. But of course, new supernatural threats are also brewing, new monsters are emerging, and Hopper (David Harbour) has to find some way to get out of captivity in Russia. It's a lot, and that helps explain why the new season is so massive.
“We really wanted to give as many of our characters as we could their time to shine and to really work on their character development and their arcs,” Ross Duffer said. ”And we've talked about this being a very revelatory season, in that there's a lot of stuff that we want to tell the audience about and reveal in terms of the Upside Down and what is really happening here in Hawkins."
Season 4 will be just nine episodes long, and split up across two release dates, with part one arriving May 27 and part two arriving July 1. In terms of episodes, it's just one longer than Stranger Things, but according to Ross Duffer, it's "almost twice as long" in terms of total runtime.
“It's just big,” Matt Duffer added. “It really is two seasons. It's almost like we shot two seasons back-to-back, is really how I think about it.”
Stranger Things 4 has reason to be big, and not just because of the ever-expanding tapestry of characters and locations in the universe. According to the Duffers, the season expanded in part because, while finalizing the story amid the COVID production shutdown, they released they had a lot left to say before they reached the end of the story. By the time Season 4 was all laid out, it became clear that Season 5 could be the concluding chapter.
“As we sat down to do [Season] 4, we knew that we had to start giving some of these big answers,” Ross Duffer said. “And the minute we started giving some of these big answers, it meant that the end had to inevitably be in sight. And so that's what really led to us announcing that the fifth season was going to be the last.”
Stranger Things 4 premieres May 27 on Netflix.
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