‘Stranger Things’ creators respond to lawsuit alleging they stole the idea for the hit sci-fi series

Matt Duffer, left, and his brother Ross at their post-production office in Hollywood on July 26, 2017.
Matt Duffer, left, and his brother Ross at their post-production office in Hollywood on July 26, 2017.
(Mel Melcon / Los Angeles Times)

“Stranger Things” creators the Duffer brothers have denied accusations that they stole the idea for their hit Netflix series from a short film by director Charlie Kessler, who has filed suit against them.

In a statement from their attorney Alex Kohner, Matt and Ross Duffer called Kessler’s lawsuit “completely meritless.”

“[Kessler] had no connection to the creation or development of ‘Stranger Things,’ ” said the 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.”


Much of the first season of “Stranger Things” involved the strange events at a government laboratory and the disappearance of a young boy.

Kessler alleges “Stranger Things” is based on his short film “Montauk,” which premiered at a film festival in 2012 and was meant as a teaser for a feature-length film, “The Montauk Project.” He said he shared the idea of the two films with the Duffer brothers during a Tribeca Film Festival party in 2014.

His film, set in New York, is about an abandoned military base called Camp Hero and a young boy, Michael, who is drawn to the military base by an unknown force.

An exhibit attached to the lawsuit describes the film: “Michael walks to Camp Hero and stops at lifeless radar tower on the base... The radar tower suddenly lights up, the sky swirls with clouds, blue lights flash, and the boy disappears into thin air.”

Kessler claims in the lawsuit that “Stranger Things” was originally sold to Netflix as “The Montauk Project.”

He argues that there was in implied-in-fact contract when he spoke to the Duffer brothers about his film at the 2014 party, and that they used the idea without permission or compensation.


“After the massive success of Stranger Things ... Defendants have made huge sums of money by producing the series based on Plaintiff’s Concepts,” the lawsuit states.

Kessler is asking for an injunction ordering the Duffer brothers to stop using and destroy all materials related to his concepts. He also seeks restitution in the amount of benefits to the creators, lost profits and punitive damages.

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