Holy Moly, ‘Stranger Things’ Has A Huge Per-Episode Budget In Season 4

Less than a decade ago, when the average episode of Game of Thrones cost $6 million, co-showrunners Dave Benioff and D.B. Weiss had to practically beg HBO for an extra $2 million to make “Blackwater” as epic as they imagined it. How quaint. By the final season, every episode of Thrones had a $15 million price tag. The Mandalorian is also around $15 million, while Disney+’s Marvel Cinematic Universe shows like WandaVision, Loki, and The Falcon and the Winter Soldier reportedly have a $25 million budget.

Stranger Things is about to blow them out of the (Black)water (Bay). In a fascinating article about how Netflix‘s days of “carefree spending” might be over, the Wall Street Journal revealed how much every episode of the sci-fi show’s fourth season will cost.

The holy grail for Netflix is to find shows like Squid Game that are inexpensive and yet become hits. Virgin River, at a cost of roughly $3 million per episode, is a relatively low-budget soap opera with no big stars, but has been a huge success for Netflix. That means it is more efficient than pop-culture hit Bridgerton, which costs more than three times as much, say people familiar with the streamer’s efficiency measurement. Under-the-radar, relatively low-cost hits are necessary to balance out the costs for big-ticket programming such as the special-effects-filled show Stranger Things, whose new season has a per-episode cost of $30 million, according to people close to the show.

At $30 million/episode, Stranger Things doesn’t appear to cost that much more than Loki‘s $25 million. But the difference is that Loki season one was only six episodes long; season four of Stranger Things has nine episodes. A single episode of Stranger Things costs as much as the last three Best Picture winners combined. That’s some Lord of the Rings-level spending.

Stranger Things returns for season four on May 27.

(Via the Wall Street Journal)