As if Netflix didn’t have enough worries lately: An effort to promote Stranger Things season four has been turned upside down.
Images have leaked online from an official Monopoly game tie-in pegged to the long-awaited new season of the retro sci-fi hit.
The images from the game’s cards — which first started circling last month — spoil major plot points in the new episodes. (The Hollywood Reporter will not reveal them here.)
Netflix wasn’t happy about the mishap. But they weren’t nearly as displeased as the show’s creators, The Duffer Brothers, who sources say weren’t consulted about the game. Matt and Ross Duffer have long valued maintaining story secrecy and were said to have had a “total meltdown” about the mishap.
A Reddit thread devoted to the leak claimed the game was bought at “a nationally recognized retailer and purchased fair and square by a consumer. Nobody stole it; nobody leaked a sample.” Those purchase details are unconfirmed, however. Retailers are currently advertising Stranger Things Monopoly boards pegged to past seasons, though a couple purported copies of the season four version are being advertised on eBay.
One source close to the streamer’s tentpole series said that while its producers have a lot of involvement in, and approvals over, the vast majority of the show’s promotions and consumer products, the sheer scale and breadth of the Stranger Things franchising world is so incomparable to any other show at Netflix that the Monopoly game must have accidentally passed go.
“Lessons have been learned and, I expect, there will be more cohesion going into season five,” the source noted.
This is hardly the first time a major entertainment brand has been spoiled by a tie-in toy. Star Wars titles have famously been spoiled many times over the years (such as a Rey action figure with a lightsaber being released before The Force Awakens opened, revealing the character was a potential Jedi). The Mandalorian showrunner Jon Favreau was so concerned about toy spoilers that he refused to allow any manufacturer to get the design for Baby Yoda until after the show’s 2019 premiere, resulting in the lucrative toy line for the breakout character not being available to consumers until many months after the Disney+ series launched.
Netflix recently announced that Stranger Things‘ fifth season will be its last. The Duffers have also strongly hinted that Stranger Things might get a sequel or spinoff series beyond the show’s current story and cast.
Here’s the official description of season four: “It’s been six months since the Battle of Starcourt, which brought terror and destruction to Hawkins. Struggling with the aftermath, our group of friends are separated for the first time — and navigating the complexities of high school hasn’t made things any easier. In this most vulnerable time, a new and horrifying supernatural threat surfaces, presenting a gruesome mystery that, if solved, might finally put an end to the horrors of the Upside Down.”
The new season is being split into two parts. “Volume 1” of season four will debut May 27 (three years after season three aired). While the second half of the fourth season, “Volume 2,” will debut July 1.