Stranger Things plagiarism lawsuit heads to trial next month
Staff Reporter | On 19, Apr 2019Reading time: 4 mins
The creators of Stranger Things are headed to court next month, as the plagiarism lawsuit against them goes to trial.
Just weeks before the third season of their smash hit retro/horror/sci-fi series debuts, the Duffer Brothers will be defending themselves against claims that they copied the ideas from another filmmaker.
Charlie Kessler, director of a short film called Montauk, filed a lawsuit last year claiming that he pitched the concept for his story to the Duffers in April 2014, at the Tribeca Film Festival. He alleges that they used the script, ideas story and film to develop their series.
The show, notably, was originally titled Montauk when it was announced by Netflix, described as a “love letter to the 80s classics that captivated a generation” and set in Long Island. Since then, it has changed its name and location, going on to become one of Netflix’s biggest titles. Kessler’s short does have similarities with the Netflix project, which both involve a missing boy, a military base with secretive experiments and a monster from another dimension that looks like a toy.
“Triable issues of fact remain to be determined concerning what plaintiff said, what he meant to convey by his conversation and how the defendants responded before it can be definitively concluded whether or not an implied in fact contract was formed,” L.A. Superior Court Judge Michael Stern said this week.
“Defendants submit that their creation was independent and occurred prior to plaintiff’s alleged disclosure of his idea to them,” the LASC judge noted. “They each submit declarations relying upon and substantiating the credibility of each other’s testimony. However, there is little independent verifying evidence of the originality of their idea.”
“The Duffer Brothers have our full support,” a Netflix spokesperson told Deadline. “This case has no merit, which we look forward to being confirmed by a full hearing of the facts in court.”
“If the lawsuit had no merit, or if they actually had the ‘proof’ they created it, then their summary judgment would have won,” Kessler’s attorney, S. Michael Keman, said in a statement. “They lost. These motions are very hard to fight and winning this Motion shows Mr. Kessler has a good case. We look forward to proving Mr. Kessler’s case at trial.”
The trial starts on 6th May.
Stranger Things creators sued for copying ideas from 2012 short
4th April 2018
The Duffer brothers, the creators of Stranger Things, are being sued for allegedly copying ideas from a 2012 short film, called Montauk.
The show, which is set in Indiana in the 1980s, was first announced in 2015 by the streaming giant, with the working title Montauk. It was described as a “love letter to the 80s classics that captivated a generation”, with a synopsis as follows: The drama is set in 1980 on Long Island, where a young boy vanishes into thin air. As friends, family, and local police search for answers, they are drawn into a mystery involving top secret government experiments, supernatural forces, and one very strange little girl.
Now, Charlie Kessler, director of a short film with the same name, has filed a lawsuit claiming that he pitched the concept for his story to the Duffers in April 2014, at the Tribeca Film Festival. He alleges that they used the script, ideas story and film to develop their series. Since it was announced, Stranger Things has changed its name, moved from Montauk to Indiana and has gone on to become one of Netflix’s biggest original projects, with a third season on the way.
What similarities are there between the projects? Kessler’s short involved a missing boy, a military base with secretive experiments and a monster from another dimension that looks like a toy. Variety, however, reports that a book called The Montauk Project: Experiments in Time was published in 1992 and tells of secretive government experiments at Montauk’s Camp Hero, with stories about those tests circulating on conspiracy sites for many years since.
Kessler’s lawsuit, unearthed by Deadline, reads as follows; “After the massive success of Stranger Things that is based on Plaintiff’s concepts that Plaintiffs discussed with Defendants, Defendants have made huge sums of money by producing the series based on Plaintiff’s concepts without compensating or crediting Plaintiff for his Concepts.”
Netflix and the Duffer brothers have not commented on the reports.