The fourth and final season of Netflix’s hit drama Ozark will begin production this fall, according to series star and executive producer Jason Bateman. The upcoming 14-episode season will be split into two 7-episode parts that will premiere separately on the streaming platform.
In an interview with IndieWire, Bateman said, “We’re going to start November 9. Everything is moving well toward that, and we’re very confident in the guidelines and protocols we’re going to be following. We’ve got tons of consultants, [and] we’re learning a lot from other productions.”
Even with safety protocols in place, the likelihood of the virus spreading among the Georgia-based production is arguably high. (The state experienced a spike in new cases in the month of July.)
“I’ll bet you we get a positive [test result] every week down there, so it’s going to be challenging,” Bateman said. “You’re effectively starting up a school, and look at the infections that are starting up at schools down there — they just had to shut a bunch down. [Sometimes] we’ve got 60 or 70 people on stage, [and] sometimes [we’re] in a very small location. You’ve got ad hoc air conditioning tubes and vents going in there, pushing air. Every one of those crew members is going home every night to families that are not having to follow a strict quarantine. […] So chances are high that we’re going to have some virus come through our set — often.”
In the past, Bateman has directed the first two episodes of each season (in addition to the final two episodes of Season 1), but he indicates that the possibility of exposure to COVID-19 makes it extremely unlikely he’ll step behind the camera at any point during Season 4. “As normal, I was going to do the first two episodes, but as we were looking through the protocols, the guidelines, all the complications with COVID, [and] the producer side of me made me think it’s just not responsible to have one of the actors direct the first two, given that we’re still going to be getting our perimeter safe,” he said. “Because if one of the actors gets sick, we all have to go home for weeks. If one of the crew members gets sick — while I’m making sure their salary is protected while they’re in quarantine — we can hire a replacement. So it just didn’t seem smart for me to [direct] the first two [episodes].”
In fairness, it’s entirely possible the rate of new cases could drop significantly between now and the production’s start date in November, so maybe Bateman will get to direct one or two final episodes before wrapping up Ozark for good. There’s currently no word on a release window for Season 4, but it’s safe to assume we’ll be seeing it sometime towards the end of 2021.