Pop Culture

Can the Stranger Things Creators Be Netflix’s Next Golden Goose?

Looks like Netflix isn’t done cutting Ed McMahon–sized checks to valued creators just yet. The streaming giant has renewed its mega-hit paranormal drama Stranger Things for a fourth season and, more importantly, inked a substantial overall deal with the show’s creators, Matt and Ross Duffer.

The Duffer brothers have signed a multi-year film and TV deal as Netflix continues its search for the next huge hit. The streamer’s longest-running series, Orange Is the New Black and House of Cards, have both come to an end, leaving its second generation of hits, like Stranger Things and The Crown, to carry on the torch. But perhaps more importantly, Netflix is also preparing to lose a lot of licensed series as WarnerMedia, NBC, and more branch out with their own platforms, taking their shows along with them. Netflix has been bracing for a while—and part of its strategy has involved writing checks to big names including Shonda Rhimes, Kenya Barris, Ryan Murphy, Janet Mock, Stranger Things producer Shawn Levy, and Game of Thrones creators David Benioff and D.B. Weiss.

But Netflix has also become more aggressive about canceling its shows before they surpass or, in some cases, even reach a third season—making it hard for viewers to grow as attached to most Netflix shows in the same way they feel to old sitcoms that ran for more than 100 episodes before moving to syndication and, finally, streaming. Stranger Things’ longevity speaks to its special status in the Netflix library—a distinction it’s earned, one might guess, thanks to its massive viewership. Stranger Things was the sleeper hit of the summer when it debuted back in 2016, and each season its numbers have grown. By investing in the Duffers, Netflix is likely hoping lightning might strike again, granting the platform some more runaway hits that take less time to grow than more niche fare might. Netflix did not disclose the amount the Duffers will receive through their pact with the company, but industry sources tell Deadline the number is likely in the same ballpark as the $200 million deal Benioff and Weiss signed this summer.

Much like the upcoming stand-alone streaming services on their way from Netflix competitors like WarnerMedia, NBC, and Apple, it remains to be seen how successful Netflix’s strategy of gathering together prolific, well-regarded creators will turn out to be. The first of these series, Ryan Murphy’s The Politician, debuted on Friday to mixed reviews, and was renewed for a second season before it even premiered. Next year Shonda Rhimes will release her first Netflix series as well, as more creations undoubtedly trickle in from the other directors and writers the company has enlisted. Then and only then will we see whether or not Netflix’s meeting of the minds will pay off with viewers. Either way, if one person is already jazzed about the deal, it’s Netflix chief content officer Ted Sarandos. “The Duffer Brothers have captivated viewers around the world with Stranger Things and we’re thrilled to expand our relationship with them to bring their vivid imaginations to other film and series projects our members will love,” Sarandos said in a statement. “We can’t wait to see what the Duffer brothers have in store when they step outside the world of the Upside Down.”

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