Shortly before Free Guy hit theaters, I spoke with director Shawn Levy for an exclusive interview about a wide variety of subjects ranging from Shadow and Bone Season 2 to the status of more Unsolved Mysteries. And while the many things we talked about generated a lot of interest, nothing compares to when Levy talks about Stranger Things. If you’re not aware, Levy’s company (21 Laps Entertainment) brought the series to Netflix in the first place, and he executive produces the series and also directs two episodes each season. Levy is a key part of the series’ success along with Stranger Things creators The Duffer Brothers. He’s also someone who knows a lot about what’s coming up in Hawkins…
While we already ran most of what he said about Stranger Things Season 4 and when the series might come to a close, I wanted to offer you everything we talked about in one place and also provide the video of the conversation. During the interview, Levy shares some interesting information about what you can look forward to next season, why it takes so long to make the show, how Season 4 features an entire storyline set elsewhere that hasn’t yet been revealed, how they’ve spoken with Netflix about potential spinoffs (nothing is figured out yet), planning for the series’ endgame, and more.
Stranger Things Season 4 stars Millie Bobby Brown, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard, Gaten Matarazzo, Noah Schnapp, Caleb McLaughlin, Sadie Sink, Winona Ryder, Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton, Joe Keery, Maya Hawke, Priah Ferguson, Cara Buono, Brett Gelman, and Matthew Modine while new cast members this season include Jamie Campbell Bower, Eduardo Franco, and Joseph Quinn.
COLLIDER: Let’s move on real quick to Stranger Things, which is the number one thing people on Twitter asked me to ask you. I can’t imagine what your Twitter looks like when it comes to stranger things. I’m going to put you on the spot because I’ve heard two things and I would like you to confirm or deny. I’ve heard that filming has finally wrapped on season four and you guys are coming out in the spring of next year on Netflix. Blink, if that’s true.
SHAWN LEVY: This is me trying not to blink. I have been, along with the brothers, we have been tag teaming and directing it as recently as now. So not quite done filming. Imminently. All I can say about release is by the time this airs we’ll at least have given the world a ballpark and I’m not allowed to say more. By the time Free Guy comes out, August 13. Part of that answer will be known.
You’re saying that maybe there’s another trailer coming that will announce the release date.
LEVY: It’s not a full trailer, I can tell you that. Maybe it’s a little taste of something.
RELATED: New ‘Stranger Things’ Season 4 Teaser Confirms the Show Won’t Return Until 2022
It’s tough because the audience demand for information is huge because it’s a long gap since the last season.
LEVY: It’s an unholy gap. I want to say what I can say and speak freely on this. 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 four to be by far and I mean, by far, far, far, the most ambitious of the seasons, it’s already known that we, in fact I think that we put on the internet right, 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 Hopkins. We got some actions, apparently in Russia, 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, and delayed. So that’s why it’s taking so long.
I don’t know if you’ve announced this or said it. In an interview I did with you guys at Comic-Con, you and the Duffers. I want to say you guys said it would be five seasons. Is it still five seasons? Are you allowed to say? Do you have the end in sight?
LEVY: Yes, I have the end in sight. The brothers have the end in sight. There is a plan and that too will be shared not quite as soon as a sense of when season four is coming out but soon enough. I can say this. No one is making it up as we go along and there is an end game. If you will.
Last question on Stranger Things, it’s so popular for Netflix. I’m assuming they’ve begged you guys for spinoffs or anything else that can take place in that universe. Have you guys had those conversations and is it something that is percolating.
LEVY: There’s been, begging us for is I wouldn’t characterize it that way Steve, I’d say what’s been made clear is this is obviously a tent pole, arguably the tent pole franchise in the history of Netflix. Obviously certain other shows played key roles in their evolution, but Stranger Things with 196 million viewers over the time that we’ve been on the air, that’s a lot of household, 196 million. And it’s unique in that Netflix service. What’s been made clear is there is an interest and a real voracious appetite for any offshoot, any other iteration format or extension of the franchise, the characters, the mythology. Certainly those conversations are hardly evolved, but they’re also not non-existent, boy did I dance around that one. And you cannot take those words and turn it into a headline, that’s like Stranger Things, executive producer, Shawn Levy confirmed spinoff because I didn’t do that.
I know exactly what’s going on, which is, there’s meetings of how can we continue this without ruining it? What are organic ideas that, that fit. Is it something that we can do?
LEVY: And the reason Stranger Things take so long is everything is handmade by a very small group of us. I think we spoke about that at Comic-Con, Steve. 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 edit room and lay hands on all of it ourselves. So there’s no, if you look at the show, there’s 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.
Or a pinball machine.
LEVY: Well, those are extra, extra collector’s edition, fancy and rare.
Plus a full list of new and returning characters.
Steven Weintraub launched Collider in the summer of 2005. As Editor-in-chief, he has taken the site from a small bedroom operation to having millions of readers around the world. If you’d like to follow Steven on Twitter or Instagram, you can expect plenty of breaking news, exclusive interviews, and pictures of cats doing stupid things.