The creators behind the popular Netflix show Stranger Things might have ripped off the entire idea from someone else.
Charlie Kessler is suing Matt and Ross Duffer for allegedly stealing the idea for the series from his 2012 short film titled Montauk. Both have undeniably similar plots. The Netflix series revolves around a group of teens searching for their missing friend, experiments conducted on one of them by the government and a scary monster from the upside down. Montauk‘s storyline also involves a missing boy, a nearby military base conducting experiments on children and a monster from another dimension. Pretty similar huh?
Kessler claims that he met the Duffer brothers in 2014 at the Tribeca Film Festival and that’s when he pitched the idea to turn his short film into a series. They discussed “the script, ideas, story and film” but that the idea seemed to just be dropped right then and there. However, now it looks like the duo may have taken this idea and advertised it as their own.
The plot thickens even more with this key detail: when the Duffer brothers originally shopped the idea to the bosses at Netflix, the series used the working title The Montauk Project and was originally set in that Long Island town, but was later changed to the fictional town of Hawkins. Back in 2015, Deadline even reported that the series was picked up by Netflix with the title of Montauk, which was later changed. Yikes.
What’s interesting about both concepts, is that neither of them seems to be a truly original idea. Variety reports that there is a 1992 book titled The Montauk Project: Experiments in Time which is about a series of secret government experiments that some conspiracy theorists believe really happened at Montauk’s Camp Hero State Park. Gaten Matarazzo, who plays Dustin in the series, told Wired in 2017 that inspiration for the series may have come from those experiments at Camp Hero. So who really ripped off who here?
Kessler wants “money and destruction of all materials that were allegedly ripped off from his concept.” Neither Netflix, which isn’t named in the suit, nor the Duffer brothers have responded with any comment.