The Duffer Brothers Don't Want To Get Careless With The Massive Budget Of Stranger Things

Spoilers ahead for "Stranger Things" through season 4.

The Netflix series "Stranger Things" gave us a pretty powerful fourth season, with the gang going up against Vecna (Jamie Campbell Bower) in the Upside Down, and a look at how friendships morph and twist as kids become teenagers and beyond. What began as an '80s throwback story about the disappearance of a kid and his friends' search to find him is now a fully-realized universe. 

Season 4 was not only powerful but expensive — reportedly costing up to $30 million for each episode. That's a whole lot of money to spend on things like the effects budget and the makeup for Vecna, locations, and powers. 

According to a June 2022 Variety interview with creators Matt and Ross Duffer (collectively known as the Duffer Brothers), they're not wasting that money, and it's not just being thrown around for whatever they want.

If it's working, who cares how much it costs?

When they were asked by Variety about whether or not they had "carte blanche to do what they want" with that budget, the answer was no. Matt Duffer says: 

"No, it's a discussion. We have a really great relationship with Netflix, where everybody wants the show to be successful for them."

Of course, they do. Netflix took a huge hit in April 2022 with an over $54.4 billion loss overnight back in April 2022, and the streamer has been bleeding subscribers as viewers returned to social activities after the height of the pandemic. There is currently no indication that we'll be heading back inside with nothing to do but watch our screens, and lots of other streaming services are putting out some really competitive offerings. HBO Max has "House of the Dragon," and Prime Video has "The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power." Disney+ has ... well, something new every five minutes on either the Marvel or Star Wars front. 

There is no guarantee of viewership anymore. If huge chunks of money end up at a series that people aren't watching, we're all going to suffer for it. We're already seeing the effects of throwing money at too many things. Netflix is cracking down on sharing accounts and adding an ad-supported subscription tier.

Putting it all on the screen

One positive thing that was mentioned by Ross Duffer was that the money is ending up in the finished product. He says: 

"The goal for us, though, is whatever the money ends up being, it needs to be going on on-screen. Even though it was a long shoot, every one of those days was jam-packed — we're moving really fast."

A big chunk of fans (including myself) will tell you that the money they spent — on this series at least — was justified. The fourth season had a lot to offer, and the Upside Down and Vecna scenes were both powerful and visually stunning. We're only getting one more season of the show, though, and it will be interesting to see if any Netflix original shows will get this sort of money in the future. It seems like the finances of the company would make that unlikely, but if a hit comes out of the blue, it would make sense to shell out the dough. 

At the very least, they'll need another big hit to keep up with other giant budgeted shows like "House of the Dragon" and "Rings of Power." Perhaps the teased "Stranger Things" spin-off? We'll keep you updated as info comes out about the upcoming final season of the series.