Earlier this year, a filmmaker filed a lawsuit against the creators of Stranger Things that claimed Matt and Ross Duffer stole the concept of the show from a short film he showed them. The lawsuit originally sought for the show to end production permanently, though revised legal documents have removed language about shutting down the show, with Charlie Kessler claiming he has been receiving threats from fans.
According to TMZ, the lawsuit has been amended, with Kessler now seeking "monetary damages for the value of his idea used." The outlet doesn't specify what threats fans are making towards Kessler, though a quick Twitter search will show harassing messages from fans directed at anyone identifying themselves as "Charlie Kessler" on the site, so threats seem likely to exist.
Kessler is claiming that his short film Montauk was the inspiration for not only the overall concept of Stranger Things but there are specific similarities that the Duffer Brothers lifted from him after reportedly showing the duo the short in 2014.
“Mr. Kessler’s claim is completely meritless,” Alex Kohner, attorney for the Duffers, shared with Deadline. “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.”
The filmmaker claims that he showed the Duffer Brothers his short at the Tribeca Film Festival and that “the script, ideas, story, and film” all came from him. At the time, Kessler was reportedly pitching them a TV series called "The Montauk Project." The filmmaker is also seeking the “destruction of all materials that were allegedly ripped off from his concept.
In the years since its debut, Stranger Things has become one of the most popular series on Netflix and an incredibly recognizable brand, though the series was initially pitched as a series called "Montauk" that took place on Montauk, Long Island before the setting was changed to Hawkins, Indiana. Netflix even referred to the series by its original name when early press releases about the series were released.
There are many similarities between Montauk and Stranger Things, with both being loosely based on the same series of government projects that took place on Long Island.
Neither Montauk nor Stranger Things are the first stories to be inspired by the 1992 book called The Montauk Project: Experiments in Time, which depicts government experiments and cover-ups. Regardless, Kessler alleges that his storyline involving a missing boy, a military base conducting otherworldly experiments on children, and a monster from another dimension was stolen by the brothers for the hit series.
Stranger Things Season 3 is currently being filmed.
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