‘Stranger Things’ Spinoff and Stage Play, Stephen King’s ‘The Talisman’ Up Next for Duffer Brothers at Netflix
The siblings are also plotting a live-action adaptation of anime series ‘Death Note’ as part of their five-project slate for Netflix via their Upside Down Pictures banner.
by Lesley Goldberg, July 6, 2022.
The world of the Upside Down isn’t ending at Netflix.
Stranger Things creators Matt and Ross Duffer have unveiled plans for a spinoff series of their blockbuster hit for the streamer. The project, details of which are being kept under wraps, is but one of five projects the siblings have unveiled as part of their nine-figure overall deal for Netflix. Other projects include a new stage play set within the world of Stranger Things as well as a series adaptation of Stephen King and Peter Straub’s The Talisman and a live-action take of anime show Death Note. The fifth project in the slate is an original series from Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance duo Jeffrey Addiss and Will Matthews.
All five projects, which are currently in the development stages, will be produced via the Duffers’ newly launched Upside Down Pictures banner, which will be headed up by Hilary Leavitt. The Duffers inked a nine-figure overall deal with Netflix back in 2019. All five projects are being produced for Netflix as part of the pact, which also covers the previously announced fifth and final season of Stranger Things.
“It didn’t take long into our first meeting with Hilary, where we bonded over films like Jaws, Home Alone and Speed, to know we had found a kindred spirit. Hilary’s passion for storytelling is perhaps matched only by her passion for the storytellers themselves, for whom she is fiercely protective. No wonder so many writers and directors are drawn to working with her. She is a rare talent indeed, and we feel extremely grateful to have her at our side as we build Upside Down Pictures,” the Duffers said in a joint statement Wednesday.
The Duffers say Upside Down Pictures will aim to create the kind of stories that inspired them growing up — “stories that take place at that beautiful crossroads where the ordinary meets the extraordinary, where big spectacle co-exists with intimate character work, where heart wins out over cynicism.”
“I remember the first movie I saw in the theater, the first VHS tape I got for Christmas, the first international one-sheet I bid for on eBay because it was cooler than the domestic. And the first time I met Matt and Ross. All of these seminal moments have led to this ridiculously cool opportunity to build a company with the Duffer brothers where we produce movies and television because we love movies and television. This love is at the core of Upside Down Pictures, where we’re able to collaborate with other artists on projects across the full spectrum of genre. We all love what we do and are excited to do more and more,” said Leavitt.
The live-action Stranger Things spinoff is based on an original idea by the Duffers. Upside Down will produce alongside Shawn Levy’s 21 Laps. The Stranger Things stage play is set within world and mythology of the show and is being produced by Sonia Friedman, Stephen Daldry (The Crown, Billy Elliot, The Reader) and Netflix. Daldry will also direct. 21 Laps serves as associate producer. The Talisman is being produced by Steven Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment and Paramount Television, with Stranger Things exec producer Curtis Gwinn attached as creator. Additional details were not immediately provided.
The Talisman was teased as part of the season four finale of Stranger Things. In one of the final scenes, Lucas (Caleb McLaughlin) reads an excerpt from the book to girlfriend Max (Sadie Sink), as her fate remains up in the air heading into the final season. The Hollywood Reporter exclusively revealed the Duffers and King would be teaming on the series back in 2021.
It’s no surprise that the world of Stranger Things will expand at Netflix. The streamer, which posted its first subscriber loss in a decade, has been searching for big IP as it looks to continue to compete with the deep vaults at other platforms. Stranger Things was a surprise hit for Netflix, which owns the series as an original. The streamer is already expanding the world of Shonda Rhimes’ Bridgerton and The Witcher with spinoffs in the works as it looks to cash in on its biggest owned properties.
“Matt and Ross are an exceptionally unique talent with a vision so crisp and clear. They are all about the details — it’s no accident that Stranger Things has pierced the zeitgeist to become the epic pop culture phenomenon it is today. We’re excited to continue telling new stories with them as they grow Upside Down Pictures and to welcome Hilary as creative partner,” said Netflix’s Ted Sarandos.
For er part, Leavitt started her career at BBC America, where she developed Orphan Black. After that, she had roles developing shows including Netflix’s Ozark, Hulu’s The Great and Apple’s Shining Girls.