In an extensive new report from the Wall Street Journal headlined “Netflix, Facing Reality Check, Vows to Curb its Profligate Ways,” sources close to the streaming giant said the highly anticipated fourth season “has a per-episode cost” of $30M. Season 4 will feature nine episodes split across two volumes, which would mean the total production budget could be as high as $270 million.
If accurate, this would make ST4 more expensive than the majority of movies, including every Marvel film outside of three Avengers films. Even Game of Thrones, one of the most expensive series ever made, is said to have run a comparably small $15 million per episode in its final season. It’s not clear if Stranger Things’ prolonged schedule amid the COVID-19 pandemic was related to the cost.
According to a Variety report in 2017, the first season of the juggernaut—then a dark horse whose success was far from guaranteed—cost $6 million per episode. Season 2 ramped it up to $8M per episode.
It’s not entirely clear how much the third season in 2019 cost Netflix, but per the Hollywood Reporter in 2018, the cast all got a hefty raise. Winona Ryder and David Harbour started getting around $350,000 an episode, while the younger stars such as Finn Wolfhard and Caleb McLaughlin got $250K. Stranger Things will conclude with a fifth season.
The WSJ report on Netflix’s spending comes as the company just said it lost subscribers for the first time in a decade. The news led to Netflix reportedly losing $54 million in market cap, plummeting an astonishing 35.1 percent on Wednesday. The price per share ended the day at $226.19, the lowest for the global streamer since January 2018.
Elon Musk, the richest man in the world, recently suggested Netflix’s loss of subscribers is because of “the woke mind virus.” In reality, the loss could more likely be attributed to the service raising its monthly subscription prices in January, and its ongoing attempts to crackdown on password sharing.
Stranger Things Season 4, Vol. 1 hits Netflix on May 27. The rest of the episodes debut July 1.