The Duffer Brothers, creators of Netflix’s sci-fi hit Stranger Things, are being sued over the concept of the show (no, it’s not just that it’s based on 1980s sci-fi). Per Deadline, Charlie Kessler, who directed a short film called Montauk that debuted at the 2012 Hamptons Film Festival, filed a lawsuit claiming that he pitched his idea to the brothers in 2014 and they used it as the basis for their own show. Kessler’s Montauk involved a secret military base conducting experiments on children and monsters from another dimension, as does Stranger Things, which was originally set in Montauk before moving to Indiana. (Both projects came after the publication of the 1992 book series The Montauk Project: Experiments in Time, and later cult speculation about secret government experiments in Montauk.) Kessler’s suit claims, “Defendants have made huge sums of money by producing the series based on Plaintiff’s concepts without compensating or crediting Plaintiff for his Concepts.” He is suing for breach of implied contract and seeking monetary damages and a jury trial.
Update: THR received a response from the Duffers through their attorney, Alex Kohner, who gave the following statement.
“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.”