Stranger Things creators Matt and Ross Duffer know that it’s been a long wait for the fourth season of Netflix’s smash hit, but they promise an even greater payoff with the new season’s massively expanded scope and collective running time greater than any of the previous installments.
“We kind of jokingly call it our Game of Thrones season because it’s so spread out, so I think that’s what’s unique or most unique about the season,” Matt Duffer said during Deadline’s Contenders Television panel, which he shared with his twin brother Ross and series star Winona Ryder.
“Joyce and Byers family to have left at the end of Season 3,” said Matt, explaining the season’s expansive story landscape. “They are in California – we’ve always wanted to have that like ‘E.T’.-esque suburb aesthetic, which we finally got to do this year in the desert; and then we have Hopper in Russia; and then of course we have a group remaining in Hawkins. So we have these three storylines, are all connected and kind of interwoven together, but it’s just very different tones.”
Ross Duffer said that coming out of Season 3 the brothers knew the next chapter would feature a string of disparate locations, “[but] we didn’t know how big the season was going to get, and we didn’t even realize until we were about halfway through, just in terms of how much story that we wanted to tell this season. Game of Thrones is one thing we’ve referenced, but also for us really what it’s about is revelations, in that we really wanted to start giving the audience some answers.”
The brothers revealed that at long last, viewers will get some genuine clarity about the exact nature of the supernatural happenings that have been plaguing the citizens of Hawkins since the show’s inception.
“Back when we did Season 1, Netflix just kept going ‘Can you explain all this mythology to us?’“ said Ross. “So we wrote this giant 20-page document, which talked about everything in terms of what was going on and what exactly the Upside Down was. And then each season we’re just sort of peeling back the layers of that onion, so to speak. But this season, we really wanted to really get into it and [revealing] some of those answers. But to do that properly, we needed time, so it just became bigger and bigger.”
Matt also noted that about halfway through the season the brothers realized they’d need an additional episode to get to every story turn they intended, which Netflix quickly appoved, with each episode packed with new content.
“I don’t think we have an episode clocking in under an hour – even in Season 1 there were episodes that were like 35 minutes. You kind of forget that,” said Matt. “This season, they’re very long, so I think it’s almost double the length of any season. So that’s one reason it’s taken so long. It does have this sort of epic quality to it. It’s a different feel, for sure.”
The Duffers also acknowledged that the 80s timeline of the series was creeping up on the real-world ascendence of Winona Ryder as a major movie star: her next film in the chronological flow would be Beetlejuice, a pop culture sensation that the show’s kids would most certainly buy tickets for.
“That’s the threshold we can’t cross, which is once Winona is a superstar in the world, like the show has to stop, because [the kids’ heads] will spontaneously combust or something,” laughed Matt,
“That’s the final scene: the kids go to see Beetlejuice and their heads explode,” offered Ross.
Check out the panel video above.
Deadline Contenders Television is sponsored by Apple TV+, Eyepetizer, Final Draft, Los Siete Misterios and Michter’s. Partners include Desalto, Film AlUla, Four Seasons Resort Maui, Jason Mizrahi Design, ModMD, The American Pavilion, and Tidelli.
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