The creators of Netflix Stranger Things, brothers Ross and Matt Duffer, are being sued by filmmaker Charlie Kessler. Kessler is alleging that the brothers initially rejected his pitch and later stole it. The stolen idea would go on to be Netflix’s biggest show that has gone on to be quite a phenomenon. Kessler further alleges that the Duffer brother stole a critical plot point from his short film, Montauk.
Kessler and his agents reportedly pitched a Montauk-inspired series to the Duffer Brothers. They apparently did not express interest at the time. Kessler is asking for compensation and “destruction of all materials that were allegedly ripped off from his concept.” When the Duffer Brothers were in the process of developing Stranger Things in 2015, they used the name Montauk before ultimately becoming what we know now as Stranger Things.
In a 2012 interview with /Film, Kessler said he was “actively developing a feature version of Montauk.” To his dismay, he would see his alleged stolen project become a streaming sensation just a few short years later. Under a different name. With the people who rejected his concept now reaping the benefits. This lawsuit is of course conveniently coming on the heels of Stranger Things’ principal cast members each of whom got a substantial pay increase.
Stranger Things is a Netflix science fiction television series created, written, and directed by The Duffer Brothers. The Duffer Brothers, Shawn Levy, and Dan Cohen serve as executive producers. The first season, released in July 2016, stars Winona Ryder, David Harbour, Finn Wolfhard, Millie Bobby Brown, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, Natalia Dyer, Charlie Heaton, Cara Buono and Matthew Modine, with Noah Schnapp and Joe Keery. For the second season, Schnapp and Keery became series regulars, along with new cast members Sadie Sink, Dacre Montgomery, Sean Astin and Paul Reiser.
Set in the fictional town of Hawkins, Indiana, in the 80s, the first season is about the investigation into the disappearance of a young boy during a series of supernatural events occurring around the town. The second season, titled Stranger Things 2, is set a year after the first, and deals with the returning characters trying to return to normal lives. However, when Will is afflicted with horrific visions, the kids must once again team up to save the town of Hawkins from certain doom.
Matt and Ross Duffer have responded to claims that they stole the show’s concept from writer Charlie Kessler.
Their attorney, Alex Kohner, shared a statement with Bustle saying:
Mr. Kessler’s claim is completely meritless. He had no connection to the creation or development of ‘Stranger Things.’ The Duffer Brothers have neither seen Mr. Kessler’s short film nor discussed any project with him. This is just an attempt to profit from other people’s creativity and hard work.
Netflix has already ordered a third season set to debut sometime in 2019.