Earlier this week, news surfaced that the creators of Stranger Things, Ross and Matt Duffer, had been targeted by a lawsuit claiming they stole the idea of their series from filmmaker Charlie Kessler's short film Montauk. The brothers' attorney has responded to the lawsuit, claiming Kessler's legal action is "just an attempt to profit" from the show's success.
"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."
This statement is a direct contradiction to Kessler's recollection of events, which purports that he showed the brothers his short at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2014, pitching them a TV series based on the concept entitled "The Montauk Project." Kessler claims "the script, ideas, story, and film" all came from him. The filmmaker is seeking "destruction of all materials that were allegedly ripped off from his concept."
While "Stranger Things" has become a recognizable brand, the series was initially conceived with the title "Montauk," with the events taking place in 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.
Both the short film and Stranger Things are loosely inspired by the same theories surrounding government projects taking place in Long Island, so Kessler might not have grounds to pursue the lawsuit until further evidence can confirm the similarities in the two projects.
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.
Season 3 of Stranger Things is currently in production with an expected 2019 release date.
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