In addition to the climactic renewal, the company said the long-awaited Season 4 of the show will premiere in two “volumes,” the first on May 27 and the second on July 1. In an open letter to fans (read it in full below), co-creators Matt and Ross Duffer said the split season resulted from the season’s nine episodes having a total running time twice as long as that of any previous season.
The Duffer Bros noted that the full arc was expected to be “four or five” seasons when they first envisioned the show, so the end is not a surprise. Plus, it won’t be the end of the franchise, they promised.
“There are still many more exciting stories to tell within the world of Stranger Things: new mysteries, new adventures, new unexpected heroes,” they wrote. “But first we hope you stay with us as we finish this tale.”
The third season debuted more than two-and-a-half years ago, on July 4, 2019. In its final moments, Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder) is seen taking her sons (Charlie Heaton, Noah Schnapp) and Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) out of their Indiana town to start a new life. After a jump in geography, the final scene takes place in the far Eastern part of the Soviet Union, where guards are feeding a prisoner to an imprisoned Demogorgon — but “not the American.”
A three-time Emmy nominee for Best Drama, the series is one of Netflix’s most-watched titles to date. Season 3 drew 582 million hours of viewing, ranking as the second most-popular English-language series in Netflix’s Top 10. Season 2 had 427 million hours, ranking No. 10.
Production of Season 4 was interrupted for several months last year due to complications from Covid. Cameras resumed rolling last September. The plan to release the new episodes in 2022 was confirmed last summer.
The show’s return comes at an important time for Netflix as a company. It has been on the back foot a bit since its quarterly earnings report and first-quarter outlook last month spooked investors and sent its stock plunging. While shares have since stabilized, they begin today’s trading at $398.08, down by more than 30% since the start of 2022.
During the company’s quarterly earnings interview last month, Co-CEOs Reed Hastings and Ted Sarandos touched on Stranger Things as they affirmed the company’s ability to build franchises. Sarandos called it “as valuable a franchise as exist today in entertainment around the world.”
Unlike Disney, WarnerMedia and other streaming competitors, Netflix is focused primarily on stocking, perfecting and marketing a single app. It doesn’t have its own century-old library of IP to mine, nor does it have theme parks, TV networks or other cross-promotional venues. It has made M&A and licensing deals recently to try to line up potential franchises. Netflix recently launched a video game unit and has ramped up its consumer products efforts. Stranger Things is a “proof point,” Sarandos said, that a franchise can be built “from whole cloth” by the company.
Stranger Things, whose first season debuted in 2016, is poised to benefit from the company’s increasing emphasis on franchise-building, the execs maintained. That push “is already working,” Hastings said, “but it’s probably, I don’t know, 20% of what it will be in a couple of years in terms of the auxiliary boost beyond just the title.”
Created by the Duffer Bros, Stranger Things is produced by Monkey Massacre Productions & 21 Laps Entertainment. The twin brothers are 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.
Here is the full letter from the Duffer Bros:
And here are newly released key art posters for Season 4:
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