Stranger Things creators to stand trial for 'stealing plot of hit Netflix series'
The showrunners, who are currently prepping season three of the hit show, have had their attempts to get the plagiarism lawsuit dismissed thrown out by an LA judge.
Director Charlie Kessler has sued the duo for allegedly stealing a key idea from his 2011 found-footage short film Montauk for their series.
Kessler alleges that he pitched a series based on his short to the Duffer brothers at a Tribeca Film Festival party in 2014 but they reportedly didn’t show interest. The director expressed plans to “actively develop a feature version” of Montauk, a paranormal tale set near a mysterious military base, to /Film back in 2010.
However, in April 2015, Netflix announced the series that would later become Stranger Things under the original title Montauk.
The plot read as follows: “In the series, set in 1980 Montauk, Long Island, a young boy vanishes into thin air. As friends, family, and local police search for answers, they are drawn into an extraordinary mystery involving top-secret government experiments, terrifying supernatural forces, and one very strange little girl. Montauk is a love letter to the 80s classics that captivated a generation.”
The series – announced as being written and directed by the Duffer brothers – later relocated its action to the fictional town of Hawkins in Indiana. Kessler’s attorney states the pitch his client made to the Duffers formed a verbal contract by the trio “based on industry expectations” which in turn created an “implied in-fact contact.”
However, Entertainment Weekly reports that both Stranger Things and Montauk are inspired by the same real-life conspiracy theory surrounding government experiments in the beachy Long Island village in the 1970s.
If Kessler’s lawsuit is successful, the Duffer brothers and Netflix will be expected to destroy all materials based on the story they have allegedly plagiarised.
“Triable issues of fact remain to be determined concerning what plaintiff said, what he meant to convey by his conversation and how the defendants responded before it can be definitively concluded whether or not an implied in fact contract was formed,” LA Superior Court Judge Michael Stern wrote Wednesday (read it here).
Netflix has thrown its support upon the Duffer brothers, saying: “This case has no merit, which we look forward to being confirmed by a full hearing of the facts in court.”