‘Stranger Things’ creators explain why season four was split into two

Eleven - Stranger Things Season 3
Screengrab via Netflix

It’s been almost three whole years since Stranger Things delivered its last season — and that’s basically a decade in Pandemic Time — but the long wait will prove worth it as season four is by far the biggest run of the show yet. With every episode coming in over an hour, and with many of them being blockbuster movie-length, we’re in for about double the amount of content of previous seasons. The only thing is that we won’t get all the episodes in one, as is Netflix’s norm.

Instead, the first seven installments will land on streaming this weekend, with the final two super-sized episodes following in July. While speaking to Variety, creators the Duffer brothers explained how this unique release schedule came about, revealing that the concept originated with Netflix boss Ted Sarandos. As Matt and Ross explained:

“But as we began turning over episodes, everyone began to feel the season was too big to be released in one batch — at nearly 13 hours, it is really more two seasons than one. Early on, [Ted Sarandos] proposed the two volume split, which would allow us to break up the season while also staying true to Netflix’s binge model rather than shifting to a weekly format.”

The Duffers’ comments suggest that, at least briefly, Netflix might’ve considered having season four release weekly, which would’ve been a whole new paradigm for Netflix. Many streaming fans have voiced their interest in seeing Netflix go the weekly route, citing Disney Plus’ success with the format as a reason why they should try it out. Netflix has released some reality shows in blocks, though, premiering The Circle and Love Is Blind over the course of a few weeks.

Instead, they elected to chop ST4 in half, something which certain critics have warned interrupts the flow and pace of the storytelling. While that’s a bit of a bummer, at least we’ll still have a ton to watch this weekend. As the Duffers say above, the whole thing adds up to a staggering 13 hours. So even with the last two episodes held back, that leaves around nine hours to enjoy in volume one. Volume two will comprise about four hours (episode eight is 1 hour, 25 minutes, and the finale is 2 hours, 30 minutes).

Catch Stranger Things 4 volume one on Netflix from this Friday, May 27.