It’s officially official: Stranger Things 4 is moving out of Hawkins, Indiana. At least for a time. The announcement teaser that confirmed the renewal of the wildly popular Netflix series for a fourth season hinted towards a location shift, and now Deadline confirms courtesy of a chat with Netflix’s VP of Physical Production Patty Whitcher that a significant portion of Stranger Things Season 4 will be shot in New Mexico.
The move makes sense for a few reasons. For one, the Stranger Things 3 finale saw the Byers family and Eleven (Millie Bobby Brown) moving out of Hawkins following Hopper’s (David Harbour) “death.” For another, Harbour’s character was recently confirmed to be alive and in Russia courtesy of the first teaser trailer for the series’ fourth season. But last but not least, Netflix recently purchased the vast Albuquerque Studios where it has set up shop as the streaming service’s first production hub. So shooting in studios in New Mexico is likely cheaper than renting whatever studio space Netflix has been using in Atlanta, Georgia, which is where the previous three seasons were shot.
Stranger Things 4 production got off to an early start in Lithuania, which served as a stand-in for Russia for the exterior location scenes featuring Hopper in his Russian prison. Then Netflix dropped the first table read video of the casting assembling to read the scripts for the new season for the first time, which means production proper has either already gotten underway or is about to.
How much of that production will take place in Atlanta and how much in New Mexico is unclear, but four seasons in it’s probably a good idea to switch up the visual aesthetic of the series. Stranger Things 3 was the biggest step-up visually we’ve seen so far, with the brightly colored mall location and the vast underground Russian tunnels. But if Stranger Things 4 really does make a significant location shift, that should make the show’s eventual return to Hawkins—likely for the final season—that much sweeter. And with creators The Duffer Brothers having said the show will run for four or five seasons tops, we’re closer to the end than many realize.
Netflix hasn’t announced a Stranger Things 4 release date just yet, but given the scope and complexity of the series it’s not likely to hit before this winter at the very earliest, with 2021 being more likely. Until then, rest assured knowing that changes are afoot.