Filmmaker Says ‘Stranger Things’ Creators Stole His Ideas In New Lawsuit

A filmmaker says the creators of “Stranger Things” are copycats.

Filmmaker Charlie Kessler is suing show creators Matt and Ross Duffer for allegedly stealing ideas for their hit Netflix show after he pitched a similar project to them.

According to the suit, filed this week in Los Angeles (and posted by Deadline), Kessler met the brothers at a Tribeca Film Festival party in April 2014. Kessler, who’s since worked in technical operations for shows like “Jessica Jones” and “Daredevil,” introduced the concept of a feature based on his supernatural short film “Montauk” that had premiered at the Hamptons International Film Festival two years earlier.

He later handed over the script, ideas, story and the short film to the siblings. Now, Kessler claims they took his ideas without his permission or knowledge. “Stranger Things,” which originally was titled “Montauk” when it was sold to Netflix, has become a bona fide smash with a third season in the works.

Kessler’s outline for the project and the TV show both involve paranormal activity near government facilities, another dimension, a boy who vanishes and children with enhanced abilities, several outlets noted.

The filmmaker is now seeking damages and lost profits.

“After the massive success of ‘Stranger Things’ that is based on Plaintiff’s concepts that Plaintiffs discussed with Defendants, Defendants have made huge sums of money by producing the series based on Plaintiff’s concepts without compensating or crediting Plaintiff for his Concepts,” the suit reads.

Alex Kohner, the brothers’ attorney, said Kessler’s claim is “completely meritless.”

“He had no connection to the creation or development of ‘Stranger Things,’” the lawyer said in a statement to outlets on Wednesday. “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.”

Variety pointed out that both “Montauk” and “Stranger Things” followed The Montauk Project: Experiments in Time, a 1992 science fiction book about secret government experiments. 

This story was updated to include a comment from the Duffer brothers’ attorney.