HOLLYWOOD, CA — A filmmaker claims the creators of “Stranger Things” took the idea for the hit Netflix show from him, and he’s ready to battle it out in court.
Charlie Kessler alleges brothers Matt and Ross Duffer took the idea for the sci-fi/supernatural series from his short film “Montauk” and a related feature film script titled “The Montauk Project,” according to a lawsuit filed Monday.
Kessler claims he met and discussed his film and script with the Duffer brothers at a premiere party during the Tribeca Film Festival in April 2014, according to court documents.
“Montauk,” which won an award at the Hamptons Film Festival in 2012, was a found-footage sci-fi short that told the story of a violent event that took place in the Long Island community. The premise dealt with conspiracy theories, secret government projects and the paranormal, as described in the lawsuit. A cop haunted by his past was among the key characters.
“Stranger Things,” which has two seasons under its belt with a third on the way, centers on a group of children and teens who get wrapped up in a government conspiracy. A local police chief, played by David Harbour, is also a central character.
Alex Kohner, the Duffer Brothers’ attorney, called Kessler’s claim “completely meritless” in a statement to CNN.
“[Kessler] had no connection to the creation or development of ‘Stranger Things,'” the statement said. “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.”
Netflix had no comment.
“Montauk” had been available for viewing on Vimeo, but the film was removed from public viewing Tuesday afternoon.
Kessler alleges he did not know that “Stranger Things” mirrored his own ideas until it was released in July 2016, according to the suit.
Kessler is suing for breach of “implied contract” and is seeking monetary damages.