Netflix is setting another trip to the Upside Down, renewing its flagship series Stranger Things for a fourth season and signing series creators and showrunners The Duffer Brothers to a big multi-year film and series overall deal.
No terms are being disclosed but industry sources estimate that, given the enormous global success of Stranger Things, the deal with the Duffer Brothers would be comparable to the five-year, nine-figure overall pact Netflix recently signed with Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss.
The Season 4 renewal of Stranger Things was announced with a video, which you can see above. In addition to some Upside Down imagery, it confirms that the series will be partially leaving Hawkins, IN and provides a possible clue about a new setting of Season 4. It ends with the words “We’re Not In Hawkins Anymore” to the Westminster Chimes, used by a number of places around the world including in the U.S. but most closely associated with UK’s Big Ben.
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SPOILER ALERT. At the end of Season 3, following the apparent death of Hawkins’ Sheriff Jim Hopper (David Harbour) in a sacrificial and successful effort to destroy the Soviet lab to the Upside Down deep under the new Starcourt Mall, Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder) is seen taking her sons and Eleven out of the Indiana town to start a new, hopefully supernatural-free life. There is a jump in geography in the final scene, which takes in the far Eastern end of the USSR where guards are feeding a prisoner to an imprisoned Demogorgon, but “not the American.” That American is widely assumed to be Hopper.
While Byers and Eleven are leaving, there still will be main Stranger Things characters in Hawkins, which will remain a setting for the series, as indicated in the Duffer brothers’ statement about the series’ renewal and their overall deal. “We can’t wait to tell many more stories together — beginning, of course, with a return trip to Hawkins!”
Plans are for Stranger Things to continue to film in Georgia, which has been under heavy scrutiny by Hollywood over abortion legislation known as the “heartbeat bill,” signed by Gov. Brian Kemp in May.
“Given the legislation has not yet been implemented, we’ll continue to film there – while also supporting partners and artists who choose not to,” Netflix’s chief content officer Ted Sarandos said on May 28. “Should it ever come into effect, we’d rethink our entire investment in Georgia.”
For a blockbuster commercial and critical hit like Stranger Things, renewals are a no-brainer as each new season is an event, driving viewership and subscriptions. Being owned by Netflix, Stranger Things also is a money-maker for the company, with auxiliary revenue streams such as theme park attractions and merchandising, including Halloween costumes.
Because of Netflix’s cost plus model, which does not allow creators to reap the full financial benefits of mega hits they would under the traditional TV model, there had been talk that the Duffer Brothers had renegotiated their deals, and the new overall pact is expected to reflect the enormous success of their show and its importance to Netflix.
“The Duffer Brothers have captivated viewers around the world with Stranger Things and we’re thrilled to expand our relationship with them to bring their vivid imaginations to other film and series projects our members will love,” said Sarandos. “We can’t wait to see what The Duffer Brothers have in store when they step outside the world of The Upside Down.”
Created by Matt and Ross Duffer, Stranger Things is produced by Monkey Massacre Productions & 21 Laps Entertainment. The twin brothers serve as writers, directors, executive producers and showrunners on the series alongside executive producer/director Shawn Levy and exec producer Dan Cohen of 21 Laps and exec producer Iain Paterson.
“We are absolutely thrilled to continue our relationship with Netflix,” the Duffers said. “Ted Sarandos, Cindy Holland, Brian Wright and Matt Thunell took a huge chance on us and our show — and forever changed our lives. From our first pitch meeting to the release of Stranger Things 3, the entire team at Netflix has been nothing short of sensational, providing us with the kind of support, guidance, and creative freedom we always dreamed about. We can’t wait to tell many more stories together — beginning, of course, with a return trip to Hawkins!”
To the delight of fans, the Duffers did not say anything about ending the series. They had admitted publicly that they they can only put the kids at the center of the show through the ringer so many times and see Stranger Things as running a limited number of seasons. Netflix brass had stressed that it would be the brothers’ decision when to wrap the story.
After graduating from Chapman University’s Dodge College of Film and Media Arts in 2007 with degrees in film production, the Duffer Brothers wrote and directed several short films, attracting the attention of both Warner Bros, which acquired their script for the post-apocalyptic horror film Hidden, and filmmaker M. Night Shyamalan, who hired them as writers for multiple episodes of the Fox series Wayward Pines. They went on to pitch Stranger Things, an homage to 1980s genre films, which was picked up by Netflix.
The Duffers are repped by attorney Alex Kohner of Morris Yorn. As directors, they are also repped by CAA.
Stranger Things has garnered over 50 awards nominations from the Emmys, the Golden Globes, the Grammys, SAG, DGA, WGA, BAFTA, the Art Directors Guild and the People’s Choice Awards, among others.
Dominic Patten contributed to this story.
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