If you’re wondering what Netflix is doing with the outrageous amount of money it charges subscribers these days, we now have an answer: It’s all going to Stranger Things. That in and of itself is not surprising, since Stranger Things is the platform’s biggest hit and it only costs so much to make Bridgerton and varyingly trashy reality shows that everyone talks about for a weekend and then immediately forgets, but what is surprising is just how much cash Netflix is dumping into its ‘80s nostalgia machine.
According to a Wall Street Journal report, Netflix apparently spent $30 million on each episode of the show’s upcoming fourth season, which is double what HBO paid for each episode of the final season of Game Of Thrones—the show with elaborate castle sets, dragons, fantasy costumes, and (no offense) more than two or three named actors who you might recognize from other things. Unless they’re shooting this thing on-location in the Upside Down with IMAX cameras and they genetically engineered a real-life Demogorgon, it doesn’t seem like it should be costing that much money.
But at the same, these streaming services love to throw money at high-profile projects while throwing no money at other things, like the people who actually make the high-profile projects (remember that a dispute over the pay on streaming shows was one of the things IATSE almost went on strike over). Is it any wonder that things haven’t been going well for Netflix lately?
We also heard last year that Amazon Prime Video is spending nearly $500 million per season of The Lord Of The Rings: The Rings Of Power, so unless they’re doing an old-fashioned network TV-style 20-episode season, they’re spending more per episode than Netflix is. Again, though, that show might have dragons, which is apparently our metric for how much something should cost to make. Yes dragons? $15 million at least. No dragons? Maybe $20.
And before some venture capitalist tries to spin that and argues that making a website shouldn’t cost so much, here’s a picture of a very real dragon that was very hard to get: