Stranger Things creators accused of stealing show’s concept

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The Duffer Brothers are being sued by director who says they stole ideas from him.

If the old saying is true – which, apparently, it is – it was only a matter of time before the runaway hit that is Netflix’s Stranger Things attracted the attention of someone’s lawyer, and the accompanying writ. And here we are.

Specifically, lawyers representing a filmmaker by the name of Charlie Kessler have filed against the brothers Duffer – Matt and Ross – alleging that the concept for the cult streaming hit was stolen from his 2012 short film Montuak. His story, of a boy who goes missing in the eponymous Long Island location, appears to have been inspired by the Montuak Monster, the so-called Montuak Project and the legends surrounding it.

Though it was previously available to watch on Vimeo, it was removed when news of the legal action broke. A short clip of it is on YouTube, however (though it’s a little bit gory, you’ve been warned).

According to Variety, Kessler’s claim centres around his assertion that he referenced this 2012 short, and pitched his longer Montuak Project movie to the Duffers at the 2014 Tribeca Film festival, only to find elements of his idea turning up in Stranger Things.

In response, the Duffer’s lawyer, issued a statement on Wednesday, calling the claim “completely meritless” and strenuously denying Kessler’s version of events.

“He had no connection to the creation or development of ‘Stranger Things,’” Alex Kohner said in a statement. “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.”

Its long been known that the stories surrounding Montuak were part of the inspiration for Stranger Things, indeed when the show was originally pitched and picked up by Netflix, that was the working title. Whether or not that means Kessler provided material, merely planted the seed of an idea, or just happened across the same touchstone for starting a project as the more successful Duffers, will be for the courts to decide.