Netflix reports ‘Stranger Things’ season 4 biggest opener ever

STRANGER THINGS. (L to R) Joe Keery as Steve Harrington, Gaten Matarazzo as Dustin Henderson, Maya Hawke as Robin Buckley, Sadie Sink as Max Mayfield, Natalia Dyer as Nancy Wheeler, and Caleb McLaughlin as Lucas Sinclair in STRANGER THINGS. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2022

Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

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STRANGER THINGS. (L to R) Joe Keery as Steve Harrington, Gaten Matarazzo as Dustin Henderson, Maya Hawke as Robin Buckley, Sadie Sink as Max Mayfield, Natalia Dyer as Nancy Wheeler, and Caleb McLaughlin as Lucas Sinclair in STRANGER THINGS. Cr. Courtesy of Netflix © 2022

Credit: Courtesy of Netflix

On the same weekend that “Top Gun: Maverick” shattered box-office records, Netflix’s biggest show “Stranger Things” opened with the streaming service’s biggest opening weekend for an English-language show.

Although it has been nearly three years since season three debuted, “Stranger Things” didn’t lose momentum in terms of anticipation and fandom. Netflix, which only announces metrics when it’s good news, said season four generated 287 million hours of viewing from May 23-30. (The series debuted May 27.) This beat the last record set by season two of “Bridgerton,” which drew 193 million hours.

Seasons one, two and three of “Stranger Things” also landed in the top 5 of most watched TV series on the streaming service as people caught up or rewatched them to refresh their memories.

For many years, Netflix tracked households by anyone who watched at least 70% of a single episode. Then it reduced that to just two minutes of viewing of any given episode. Then last year, it shifted to total hours viewed.

Season four has been split into two parts. The first seven episodes were released this past Friday. Two more feature-length episodes will debut July 1.

Nielsen provides its own independent measurement of popular streaming shows but its data usually lags about three weeks behind.

“Stranger Things,” which shot the first three seasons almost entirely in Georgia, split production of season four into three places: Eastern Europe, New Mexico and Georgia.

Scenes from Hawkins, Indiana, are still in Georgia including the new haunted Creel House, which can be found in Rome.

David Harbour’s Jim Hopper character is imprisoned in Kamchatka, Russia, but the scenes were shot in Vilnius, Lithuania.

Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown), Will (Noah Schnapp) and Joyce Byers (Winona Ryder) have moved to the fictional Lenora Hills, California, which is actually Los Lunas, New Mexico, outside of Albuquerque.

The Wall Street Journal reported creators the Duffer Brothers were given almost an open budget and they certainly spent it, with each episode costing $30 million to shoot.

Reviews have been mixed. Variety noted that “the show has high ambitions, and meets them — but in so doing, sacrifices charm and humanity on the altar of looking and feeling expensive. In splitting up the show’s ensemble for various adventures and in allowing those adventures to sprawl unreservedly, the Duffer Brothers have lost the scrappiness and urgency that made ‘Stranger Things’ pop in the first place.”

The New York Times said “the show has gone from lovingly echoing 1980s touchstones to industriously copying itself.”

The Wrap was far more enthusiastic, noting that “the first seven episodes deliver the chaotic evil love child of ‘A Nightmare on Elm Street’ and ‘Shutter Island,’ and are totally worth the three-year wait.”