Season 4 of Stranger Things would have been more expensive to make than Game of Thrones and The Mandalorian combined.
According to the Wall Street Journal, whose report on Netflix’s cost-cutting measures helps reveal why the streaming giant is canceling so many shows, the next installment of Netflix’s hit show cost $30 million a year. episode. Considering the next season of the supernatural horror series will consist of nine episodes, that means Netflix spent $270 million on Stranger Things season 4 alone.
For context, the final season of Game of Thrones cost $15 million per episode, while the hit Star Wars show The Mandalorian set Disney and Lucasfilm back by a similar amount. Additionally, the recent slate of Marvel shows that released exclusively on Disney Plus reportedly cost $25 million per episode.
So Netflix is pulling out all the stops to ensure that Stranger Things 4 is the TV series’ biggest entry yet. From what we’ve seen so far, namely the three-minute trailer and some teasers, that seems to be the case as well.
That said, Season 4 of Stranger Things isn’t going to be close to being the most exorbitant TV show to arrive in 2022. The first season of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power, which will launch on Prime Video in September , reportedly cost $462 million, a monumental outlay that is sure to make it the most expensive TV series of all time.
Still, for a streaming company said to be limiting spending, the revelation about Stranger Things 4’s production costs likely won’t sit well with those who’ve been hitting Netflix lately. The streaming giant’s trial of a paid password sharing feature, along with a slowing subscriber base and year-on-year growth, means things don’t look rosy for Netflix. right now.
After a nearly three-year hiatus from our screens, Stranger Things 4 Part 1 will launch exclusively on Netflix on Friday, May 27. Part 2, meanwhile, will arrive five weeks later on Friday, July 1. For more Stranger Things Season 4 content, check out our official trailer breakdown.
Analysis: paying the price
Season 4 of Stranger Things might be the kind of big-budget show Netflix needs right now. With the myriad issues surrounding the streamer, coupled with the likely unwanted press he’s received since his Q1 2022 earnings report, his management team could do with a big win. Given the popularity of Stranger Things, the series is poised to deliver on that front.
Even so, at $30 million per episode, Stranger Things 4’s production costs are sure to raise eyebrows. Yes, the latest entry in the TV series needs a budget to reflect the fact that it’s the biggest installment yet. But, given the financial issues that Netflix is suffering (and may continue to suffer), a new $300 million budget for Stranger Things season 4 might seem a bit excessive.
It’s a cost that can weigh on the creative teams behind other Netflix projects. According to the Wall Street Journal report, Netflix is looking to create “low-key, relatively inexpensive hits” to offset the financial outlay of its biggest shows and movies. Think The Witcher ($10 million per episode), The Crown ($13 million per episode), Red Notice ($200 million total) and The Adam Project ($116 million total), and Netflix n shy away from supporting its biggest hitters and most notable stars.
So Netflix is positioning itself to produce films and TV series with smaller budgets in the hope of discovering the next Squid Game. From a financial perspective, this is a laudable position to take. But, from a creator’s perspective, the possibility of receiving a lower budget than Stranger Things may not allow you to realize your original vision for a movie or show. Once that project is out in the wild, it may not resonate with Netflix audiences, especially if it looks poorly produced. This, in turn, can lead to your production being canceled by Netflix, which could be seen as a waste of money on Netflix’s part. So the cycle continues.
Of course, Netflix has proven that a show’s success doesn’t equate to its auto-renewing for another season or two. Hit shows like Archive 81 have been canceled by the streaming company for the past few years, so positive audience engagement doesn’t always mean a show will continue on Netflix. What it does, however, is alienate fans of those shows, who might be inclined to cancel their Netflix subscription if they grew tired of the streamer’s decision to pull the plug on fan-favorite productions sooner than expected.
While Netflix would no doubt like to be considered as such, it’s not Marvel. It can’t be expected to be a hit every time, unlike any Marvel movie or TV show released so far (if you discount the Eternals Phase 4 project, anyway). Netflix releases too much content (in an effort to cater to all audiences) to achieve this level of success on a regular basis.
However, he still pays the price for canceling popular shows that his fan base wanna to keep watching. Needless to suggest that you want to go in a different direction and produce low-cost shows and movies if you decide not to renew the popular ones for other installments. It’s wasted money and it does little to instill confidence in your subscriber base that their favorite watches will stick around for the long haul.
So yes, shows like Stranger Things 4, Shadow and Bone season 2, and others may need big budgets to make them bigger and better than their predecessors. But, when your stock plummets 40% in the wake of subscriber and financial losses (per Yahoo Finance), shelling out nearly $300 million on Season 4 of Stranger Things may not put you in the best light, depending on especially with your audience.