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Stranger Things producer explains the show's delay, calls season 4 "epic and cinematic"

Stranger Things
(Image credit: Netflix)

Does it feel like a millennia has passed since we've visited 1980s Hawkins, Indiana? Netflix's nostalgic series dropped its first season in July 2016, its second October 2017, and its third in July 2019. Two years have elapsed, and the show's only starting to wrap production on Stranger Things season 4.

Executive producer Shawn Levy has offered fresh insights as to why this particular season is taking its time. The upcoming season only has 9 episodes, a much shorter order compared to previous seasons, so it's not a duration issue.

As it turns out, a matrix of issues factor into the show's delay, including the immediate shutdown of production right as the pandemic hit, leaving the show's creators unsure of how to proceed. Once production restarted, safety protocols in place as a result of COVID, meant the speed of filming also slowed. 

Oh, and the fact that this upcoming season is "more epic and cinematic than we’ve ever attempted before," Levy tells Slashfilm. The previous seasons borrowed heavily from filmmaking stalwarts Steven Spielberg, John Carpenter, so what's in store for the upcoming season to make it even more cinematic?

A much bigger production, for one thing, which in addition to pandemic protocols, is another reason.  “As much as it pains our viewers that it will have been so long, trust me, it pains Matt, Ross, and I more," Levy told Collider. "It is a kind of perfect storm combination of COVID shutdown, slower pace of filming in COVID protocols and health protocols, which are necessary, and coincidentally we chose Season 4 to be by far — and I mean, by far, far, far — the most ambitious of the seasons.”

Currently, little is known about the season. A brief meta-teaser explored the Hawkins National Laboratory, Millie Bobby Brown's Eleven is going to be in more peril as hinted at in set photos, and we know for certain David Harbour's Sheriff Hopper survives. While specifics remain elusive, by all accounts, season 4 is shaping up to be a globe-trotting affair that won't stick purely to the Indiana suburbs.

Levy explains: “It's already known that, as the pandemic was starting, I was over in Lithuania with David Harbour shooting that piece that revealed Hopper's alive. So you kind of know we've got some action in Hawkins, we’ve got some action apparently in Russia, and we have an entire storyline set elsewhere that will soon come to light. "

So this is the first season where we have this sprawling geography, multiple location shoots, and we're doing it all against a backdrop of a world that has made filming slower and longer in delay. So that's why it's taking so long.”

Well, it's hard to stay mad at them for trying to make a top-notch season, isn't it? Until it drops – and rumors hint at a release date announcement very soon – why not catch up on the rest of the best Netflix shows

Gem Seddon

I'm GamesRadar+'s west coast Entertainment News Reporter. I'm a bit obsessed with all things Aliens and Terminator. You can find my byline on our best Netflix movies and best Netflix shows lists.