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Stranger Things Final Season Pitch Made Netflix Executives Cry

Fans of Netflix hit series Stranger Things should brace themselves for an emotional final season. The creators of the show and several of its cast members hinted at what viewers should expect from a blockbuster Season 5 during a panel in Los Angeles Sunday night.

Creators Ross and Matt Duffer, executive producer Shawn Levy, and cast Millie Bobby Brown, Caleb McLaughlin, Priah Ferguson, Jamie Campbell Bower, Joseph Quinn and Eduardo Franco took part in the panel held at Tudum Theater.

The Duffer brothers revealed that the team had finished writing the season’s first episode, “The Crawl.” The crew also conducted a two-hour pitch meeting with Netflix execs to lay out the series ending, which left some executives in tears. According to Matt Duffer, just a few individuals know how the series will end.

“We did get our executives to cry, which I felt was a good sign that these executives were crying. The only other times I’ve seen them cry were like budget meetings.”

After submitting the first episode of the beloved series’ final season, Ross Duffer reflected on the show’s remarkable run.

“We turned in the first script a couple of weeks ago and we’re onto the second. It’s full steam ahead. I remember Season 1 we were just amazed that Netflix was letting us do this at all, but Season 2 was when we really, with the writers, we developed an overall plan and a back story for all of this and make sure that, with the Upside Down, everything about what it was.”

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Patton Oswalt, who served as the panel’s moderator, probed for information on Season 5’s emotional underpinnings. Fans hope the show will continue weaving 80s horror and pop culture references into its script.

“Five, the way we see it, is kind of a culmination of all the seasons, so it’s sort of got a little bit from each, whereas before each season was so distinctly … [Season] 3 is our big summer blockbuster season with big monsters, and [Season] 4 was the psychological horror. I think that what we’re trying to do is go back to the beginning a little bit, in sort of the tone of [Season] 1.”

Ross Duffer also shared that the last episodes of Season 5 will be comparable to Season 4 “scale-wise.” 

Season 4 of the series became the most expensive Netflix original created, costing around 30 million dollars to make each episode. In comparison, Breaking Bad Season 5 was 3.5 million dollars an episode, and Game of Thrones Season 8 was 15 million dollars an episode.

The series’ outstanding ratings among viewers and 12 Emmy wins suggest that the production costs were well worth it.

“Just as important as the supernatural, we have so many characters now, most of whom are still living. It’s important to wrap up those arcs because a lot of these characters have been growing since Season 1. So, it’s a balancing act between giving them time to complete their character arcs and also tying up these loose ends and doing our final reveals.”

Levy, the show’s executive producer, has praised the Duffer brothers’ dedication to the show over the years.

“As a witness and having been in that two-hour pitch room and having read this first script — I’m paralyzed with fear that I’ll spoil anything but I will say the thing about these Duffer Brothers is that even though the show has gotten so famous and the characters have gotten so iconic and there’s so much about the ’80s and the supernatural and the genre, it’s about these people, it’s about these characters. Season 5 is already so clearly taking care of these stories of the characters because that’s always been the lifeblood of Stranger Things.”

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Matt Duffer revealed in August that the creators were considering not adding any new cast members during the final season to retain the focus on the current ensemble. Some viewers have criticized the show in the past for its reluctance to kill off main characters, which seems  idealistic in a world filled with ravenous monsters.

“Whenever we introduce a new character, we want to make sure that they’re going to be an integral part of the narrative. So that’s something with Eddie this season, where we go, ‘Well, we need a character here for this storyline to really work, and to give it the engine that is needed.’ But every time we do that, we’re nervous, because you go, ‘We’ve got a great cast of characters here, and actors, and any moment we’re spending with a new character, we’re taking time away from one of the other actors.’ So we’re just very, very careful about who we’re introducing.”

David Harbour, who plays Jim Hopper in the series, believes the final season will be a “home run.” Harbour said that playing Hopper has been “the role of a lifetime in many ways” and that he is going to pour his “heart and soul” into playing him for the last time.

“I know those Duffer brothers are very specific, and I know they want to get that last season. I mean if you look at Season 4, I have a feeling that Season 5 may not be as long, but it certainly will be packed to the brim with good stuff that you love. I mean, they really are getting better at giving you that home run that the audiences love. And I think that Season 5 will do that so much.”

lord of the rings

Original ‘LOTR’ Cast Stands in Solidarity With ‘Rings of Power’ Cast Amid Racist Backlash

The original cast of “The Lord of the Rings” movies are standing in solidarity with the diverse cast of Amazon’s new series “Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power.” The cast of “The Rings of Power” have been on the receiving end of a slurry of hateful messages from racist “fans” of the LOTR franchise. These fans are unhappy with the casting decision and feel that it does not represent what they perceive to be LOTR author J.R.R. Tolkien’s vision of its fantasy world, “Middle-earth.”

Elijah Wood, Billy Boyd, Sean Astin, and Dominic Monaghan publicly supported the new cast members on social media. They posted photos wearing hats and t-shirts featuring a row of human, goblin, and elf ears in various shades of skin tone. The four actors played the four hobbits in Peter Jackson’s movie adaptation of the LOTR trilogy.

The actors captioned their posts with “you are all welcome here,” which quickly became a hashtag and reaffirmed their support. The merchandise designed by Don Marshall also features the phrase printed in “elvish.” 50% of the merchandise sales profits go to a nonprofit supporting POC.

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On a statement on Instagram, The Lord of the Rings on Prime account wrote a response to the controversy.

“We refuse to ignore it or tolerate it. JRR Tolkien created a world which, by definition, is multi-cultural. A world in which free peoples from different races and cultures join together, in fellowship, to defeat the forces of evil. “Rings of Power” reflects that. Our world has never been all white, fantasy has never been all white. Middle-earth is not all white. BIPOC belong in middle-earth and they are here to stay.”

This is not the first time a cast’s diversity or lack of diversity stirred controversy. A few weeks before “The Rings of Power” started streaming, a prequel to the TV fantasy series “Game of Thrones” called “House of Dragons” was released. Fans noticed that the prequel attempts to create a more diverse world than in “Game of Thrones.” A few years ago, Idris Alba received backlash when rumors of him playing James Bond circulated in the media.

Neil Gaiman, a fantasy and science-fiction author and screenwriter, has also come out in support, dismantling some of the arguments circulated by racist fans. On Twitter, one user posted, “browner of skin means tanned white similar to people who work in the sun,” to which Gaiman responded, “Tolkien didn’t say ‘The Harfoots spent longer in the sun than any of the other hobbits and were a lot more tanned.” He said that Tolkien described them as “browner of skin.”

The TV adaptation of “The Sandman,” released on Netflix recently, features a similarly diverse cast. In the show, one of the characters, “Death,” is white in the comics and is played by a Black actor named Kirby Howell-Baptiste. Female actors played other characters who were originally male in the comics. Gaiman wrote the original comic and was one of the developers of the show.

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Actor Whoopi Goldberg also came out in support and talked about the absurdity of a diversity rule placed on a fantasy world. Goldberg said, “they don’t exist in the real world.”

“There are no dragons. There are no hobbits. Are you telling me Black people can’t be fake people too? Is that what you’re telling me? I don’t know if there’s like a hobbit club, I don’t know if there are gonna be protests, but people! What is wrong with y’all?”

“The Rings of Power” takes place in Tolkien’s Middle-earth second age, before the timeline of the first book. It is streaming on Amazon Prime.

Director Chair

Trailer for El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie Released

Spoilers for Breaking Bad follow.

Breaking Bad’s ending, while providing an emotionally satisfying conclusion for the series’ principal characters, left open the fate of deuteragonist Jesse Pinkman, who was last seen racing away from a Nazi compound in a stolen El Camino. The critically-acclaimed series spawned a spin-off, Better Call Saul, which is also critically acclaimed but does not address the question of what happens to Jesse Pinkman, as the series takes place before the events of Breaking Bad. However, a film entitled El Camino, starring Aaron Paul as Jesse Pinkman was secretly written, produced, and directed by Vince Gilligan, the creator of Breaking Bad, and premiers on Netflix on October 11th.

As a result of the production’s intense secrecy, details about the film are scarce. On Tuesday, a two-minute trailer was released which, though it provides hints about which characters and locations will be featured in the film, does not give much in the way of indication of overall plot progression. In the trailer, a battered Pinkman arrives at the house of his friend Skinny Pete, and is joined by series regular Badger. Pinkman showers and sets off on a journey to an unknown location for unknown reasons, stopping to dig something up in the New Mexico desert and running from the police.  An unidentified voice asks Pinkman, “You ready?” to which he replies, “Yeah,” before the film’s title appears on-screen. Though the trailer provides fans with very little information to work with, this might be for the best, as it ensures that viewing the film on its premiere will ensure an unpredictable and fresh experience.

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Though the entire cast and crew are notoriously tight-lipped, Gilligan and others have revealed a few details about the film in interviews and promotional materials. The full cast of returning characters and actors has not yet been confirmed, but Vince Gilligan has said that more than ten characters from the series will return, and Jonathan Banks has said that his character, Mike Ehrmantrout, will appear in the film, though the character died during the series. (The river where Ehrmantrout was shot is featured in the trailer, alongside two blurry figures, indicating the film may feature a flashback to the moments immediately preceding Ehrmantrout’s death.) The film was shot under the working title of Greenbrier, and used the ARRI Alexa brand of camera, giving it a more cinematic look than the series had.

Perhaps the best source of information about the movie is a feature in The Hollywood Reporter which is based off of interviews of both Vince Gilligan and Aaron Paul, during which they describe the process of creating the film and its inspirations. During the interview, Gilligan said that while watching Breaking Bad beforehand will surely enhance your experience of watching the film, it is not necessary to do so to understand the film’s plot. Because the film had a much higher budget than any of the episodes of Breaking Bad, Gilligan had a lot more flexibility when it came to making filming decisions. Gilligan has long wished for a theatrical release of a Breaking Bad film, and with El Camino, this dream will be realized, as the film will be presented in a limited theatrical release alongside the October 11th Netflix premiere, before a television screening on AMC early next year.