Duffer Brothers accused of "ripping off" a 2012 short film
The creators of Stranger Things have been sued for allegedly stealing the show’s concept.
Filmmaker Charlie Kessler produced a short film in 2012 called Montauk and alleges that he and his agents pitched the idea of turning it into a full series to the Duffer Brothers in April 2014.
TMZ reports that “the idea seemed to die right there” and that Kessler was then “shocked” when Stranger Things eventually came out, claiming that the two works share a common plot involving top secret government experiments.
Kessler is seeking monetary compensation and “destruction of all materials that were allegedly ripped off from his concept”.
When announcing what would later become Stranger Things in April 2015, a Netflix press release listed the project’s title as Montauk.
The pair have shared emails with TMZ that they say show they didn’t steal Kessler’s idea. The messages date as far back as November 2010 – four years before the filmmaker claims to have shared his concept with the Duffers. They also refer to Montauk in several of the emails, including one which the website says describes the series as being set in “1980s Long Island” and having a “vintage Stephen King feel”.
The Duffer Brothers’ attorney issued a statement in response earlier this week, which read: “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.”
The Duffer brothers, were recently accused of verbally abusing female crew members on set.
Atlanta-based grip Peyton Brown announced that after working on the first two seasons of the show, she would not be involved with season three due to an “unhealthy work environment.”
In a statement, The Duffer Brothers responded to the allegations, saying: “We are deeply upset to learn that someone felt uncomfortable on our set”.
“We think it is important not to mischaracterise our set, where we believe strongly in treating everyone fairly regardless of gender, orientation, race, religion, or anything else. We remain totally committed to providing a safe and collaborative working environment for everyone on our productions.”