Lawsuit claiming 'Stranger Things' creators stole idea for the show is heading to trial

Ben Arnold
Stranger Things (Credit: Netflix)
Stranger Things (Credit: Netflix)

The Duffer Brothers, creators of Netflix hit Stranger Things, will have to defend claims they stole the idea for the show in court.

Yesterday, a judge at the Los Angeles Superior Court determined that the lawsuit brought by writer Charlie Kessler should be heard.

Kessler claims that he pitched an idea to Matt and Ross Duffer when he met them at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2014.

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He alleges that they then stole the idea, which Kessler had called The Montauk Project, and turned it into Stranger Things.

Kessler’s idea centred around the long-held conspiracy theory of unusual, paranormal goings on at the abandoned Montauk Air Force Base in Montauk, Long Island.

But the Duffers have said that they’ve long been interested in the subject, and had on a film project based on urban legends and conspiracy theories since 2010.

Ross and Matt Duffer (Credit: Jordan Strauss/AP Images)
Ross and Matt Duffer (Credit: Jordan Strauss/AP Images)

Netflix has said that it is behind the Duffers, telling The Hollywood Reporter: “The Duffer Brothers have our full support. This case has no merit, which we look forward to being confirmed by a full hearing of the facts in court.”

Kessler is seeking a third of the reported $1 million the Duffer brothers received for making the show for Netflix.

His attorney Michael Kernan told THR: “Now that the Judge has ruled and denied their motion for summary judgment, we can now dispense with the nonsense promoted by the Duffers and Netflix that this lawsuit has no merit, and that they had ‘proof’ that they created the show.

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“If the lawsuit had no merit, or if they actually had the ‘proof’ they created it, then their summary judgment would have won. 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.”

“Charlie Kessler asserts that he met the Duffers, then two young filmmakers whom Kessler never had heard of, and chatted with them for ten to fifteen minutes,” The Duffers’ attorneys said of the suit in January this year.

“That casual conversation – during which the Duffers supposedly said that they all ‘should work together’ and asked ‘what [Kessler] was working on’ – is the sole basis for the alleged implied contract at issue in this lawsuit and for Kessler’s meritless theory that the Duffers used his ideas to create Stranger Things.”