It’s been almost three years since we’ve gotten any new screen stories from the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana. But that’s about to change. Stranger Things season 4 is almost here and it turns out it cost a lot more to make it happen than you might imagine. A report released earlier today revealed the new season of one of Netflix’s most valuable intellectual properties cost the streamer a stunning $30 million per episode.
The news comes from The Wall Street Journal (via Movie Web), and you don’t need to be a genius with eight graduate degrees to do the math. Stranger Things season 4 will have 9 episodes and at $30 million per episode, that’s a total of $270 million for the entire season. Meanwhile, Movie Web says that each Stranger Things episode before season 4 cost between $8 million and $10 million to make. So, to put this in perspective — there have been 25 episodes of Stranger Things in the first three seasons, so even if you rounded up and said each of those episodes cost $10 million to make, it would still mean it cost more for Netflix to make the fourth season ($270 million) than all the other seasons combined ($250 million).
If Stranger Things season 4 were a movie, it would just barely miss the top ten list of the most expensive movies to make of all time. A $270 million budget would just barely come short of The Rise of Skywalker and Solo: A Star Wars Story (both $275 million). It’s actually slightly more than it cost to make other big budget flicks like John Carter ($264 million), Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice ($263 million) and 2019’s live-action Lion King ($260 million).
On one hand, that certainly speaks well of what we can expect in the production quality of Stranger Things season 4. On the other, this news comes in the wake of Netflix hitting a Titanic-killing iceberg in the stock market. For the first time in a decade, Netflix reported losses in their subscriptions, and traders reacted by selling as fast as they could. Since the announcement, Netflix has lost $50 billion in market value (which, for those keeping score, equals about 185 Stranger Things season 4s).
When Netflix’s losses were first announced, it was reported that the streamer was making the rare admission that competition from a more crowded streaming market was impacting its bottom line. But the company has also continued to double down on a claim that is proving very unpopular — that much of the blame can be laid at the doorstep of password-sharing. The news of Stranger Things season 4’s cost is likely to remind us all of something Netflix is unlikely to cop to: its history of overspending. As reported by Looper, of some of the earliest Netflix original series that got the axe — including Bloodline, The Get Down, Marco Polo, and Sense8 — inflated budgets were reportedly a major factor. It could be that someone at Netflix needs to put the brakes on the “Shut up and take our money” policy and stop blaming the customers.