The third season of Stranger Things (2016-) took its final emotional bow in July 2019 with a tremendous cliffhanger. Season four is taking its time to make up for the time lost, and while some blame for the delay falls on the COVID-19 pandemic, there's more to just the complications of the global health crisis.
The series was forced to halt production only a month into filming due to the pandemic, and then filming resumed in September of 2020. Little updates around the show and the impending wrap on filming lead to impatient fans grasping at what they could get. The absence of promotional material or leaks from set left audiences clamoring for even the slightest indication of a release date. Stranger Things executive producer Shawn Levy admits that the fourth season has been beset by a number of delays.
Levy told all in an interview with Collider, citing the scope of the season made it more difficult to film. It was also recognized that the number of filming locations and respecting their health and safety precautions played a part in slowing down the process. It was also revealed by the producer that this upcoming season is "by far, far, far... the most ambitious of the seasons." The creative team that focuses on Stranger Things is a tight-knit collective. The small group contributes to the pressure of perfecting the season and hampers selecting a concrete release date.
"As much as it pains our viewers that it will have been so long, trust me, it pains Matt, Ross, and I more. 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.
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 longer in delay. So that's why it's taking so long.
The reason Stranger Things take so long is everything is handmade by a very small group of us. The brothers, they want to direct a certain number of episodes every year, I have to direct my episodes every year. We have to be in the [editing] room and lay hands on all of it ourselves. If you look at the show, [there are] no like 12 executive producers. It's still a very small group and the controls are rigorous on each episode and on anything that the franchise does, whether it's the drive-through experience in LA or a Nike sneaker that was put out in the summer of 2019, we see and to approve it all," the producer said in great detail while distinguishing each element of the show's significant delay.
Season 4 is coming "soon," according to the show producer. “It’s coming soon enough. And as for when exactly that will be announced — quite soon," Levy promises. The first three seasons of Stranger Things can be streamed on Netflix, where the fourth season will call home once its ready.