‘Stranger Things’ creators sued by filmmaker for allegedly stealing concept for show

(L-R) Netflix CCO Ted Sarandos, Noah Schnapp, Gaten Matarazzo, Caleb McLaughlin, writer/producer Matt Duffer, Finn Wolfhard, writer/producer Ross Duffer, David Harbour, and Millie Bobby Brown attend the 'Stranger Things' FYC event at Netflix FYSee Space on June 6, 2017 in Beverly Hills, California. Jason LaVeris/WireImage

Stranger Things creators Matt and Ross Duffer are being sued by a filmmaker who accuses them of stealing the idea for their Netflix series.

Charlie Kessler is suing the Duffer brothers for breach of implied contract. He claims that he pitched them his concept for a sci-fi story set near an abandoned military base during a party at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival.

In the lawsuit filed Monday in Los Angeles, Kessler accuses the Stranger Things creators of “misappropriation, unauthorized use and exploitation” of his 2012 short film, Montauk, and his script for The Montauk Project.

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Kessler describes his film as a “science fiction story set in the town of Montauk, New York, the location of various urban legends and paranormal and conspiracy theories” with the primary location of the story as an “abandoned military base.”

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“At this party, the script, ideas, story and film referred to were discussed and presented to [Matt and Ross],” he alleges.

Kessler’s lawyer Michael Kernan argues that the 2014 pitch at the party created an implied-in-fact contract.

“After the massive success of Stranger Things … Defendants have made huge sums of money by producing the series based on Plaintiff’s Concepts,” writes Kernan.

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Stranger Things is now in its second season on Netflix and has enriched [Matt and Ross] to the tune of millions of dollars,” the court documents state. “[Matt and Ross] have made huge sums of money by producing the series based on [Kessler]’s concepts without compensating or crediting [Kessler] for his concepts.”
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Kessler is asking for monetary damages and is demanding a jury trial. He is also seeking an injunction ordering the Duffers to stop using his concepts and to destroy all materials based on those concepts.

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The Duffers responded through their lawyer, Alex Kohner, who said, “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 declined to comment on the matter.


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