A judge has denied a summary judgement to Matt and Ross Duffer, meant to avoid a lawsuit trial. So now the Duffer Brothers and Netflix will have to go to court to defend against accusations from Charlie Kessler that they stole the concept for ‘Stranger Things’ from him. Kessler made the 2012 short film ‘Montauk’, which won at the Hamptons International Film Festival. Kessler was interested in turning his short into a feature-length film, which he dubbed ‘The Montauk Project’, and says that he pitched the idea to the Duffers in 2014, at the Tribeca Film Festival.
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According to the Duffers’ attorney:
“Charlie Kessler asserts that he met the Duffers, then two young filmmakers whom Kessler never had heard of, and chatted with them for ten to fifteen minutes. That casual conversation — during which the Duffers supposedly said that they all ‘should work together’ and asked ‘what [Kessler] was working on’ — is the sole basis for the alleged implied contract at issue in this lawsuit and for Kessler’s meritless theory that the Duffers used his ideas to create Stranger Things.”
Kessler’s ‘Montauk’ centers around the area Montauk in Long Island, New York, where it is alleged the government performed paranormal experiments in the 1970s. The area continues to be the source for various urban legends and bizarre happenings. Coincidentally (or is it?), what would eventually become ‘Stranger Things’ was to be set in Montauk. There are other similarities– both center around a lost boy, a cop with a haunted past looking for him, a monster from another dimension. In ‘Montauk’ events circle around an abandoned military base. In ‘Stranger Things’, it’s a mysterious laboratory.
Shortly after the suit was filed last year, the Duffers reportedly produced emails that date back years before the alleged meeting with Kessler, which laid the basic groundwork for ‘Stranger Things’.
Netflix has stated:
“The Duffer Brothers have our full support. This case has no merit, which we look forward to being confirmed by a full hearing of the facts in court.”
But Kessler’s attorney, Michael Kernan argues:
“Now that the Judge has ruled and denied their motion for summary judgment, we can now dispense with the nonsense promoted by the Duffers and Netflix that this lawsuit has no merit, and that they had ‘proof’ that they created the show. If the lawsuit had no merit, or if they actually had the ‘proof’ they created it, then their summary judgment would have won. They lost. These motions are very hard to fight and winning this Motion shows Mr. Kessler has a good case. We look forward to proving Mr. Kessler’s case at trial.”
The Duffers have filed a motion to seal portions of the trial to prevent spoilers from future installments of ‘Stranger Things’ from being made public.
Stay tuned for updates!
Source: The Hollywood Reporter