Stranger Things’ Creators Headed to Trial for Allegedly Stealing Idea for Netflix Series

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A judge denies summary judgment to Matt and Ross Duffer as they — and Netflix— quickly fight to guard information about dealmaking and future plot points from becoming public next month.

In the realm of the supernatural, a secret governmental project investigating the paranormal qualifies as remarkable. So, too, does a potential trial exploring whether Stranger Things creators Matt and Ross Duffer stole the idea for their Netflix show from a guy who allegedly pitched a project at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival.

On Wednesday, a Los Angeles Superior Court denied summary judgment to the Duffer brothers in a lawsuit brought by Charlie Kessler.

Kessler alleges Stranger Things is based on a feature film script titled The Montauk Project — set in the New York town in which he says is home to “various urban legends, and paranormal and conspiracy theories.”

In January, in response to claims of breaching an implied contract, the Duffer brothers argued they didn’t “manifest any intent to enter into a binding agreement” with Kessler, that they independently created Stranger Things and the ideas Kessler says he disclosed were not novel.

“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,” wrote the defendants’ attorney. “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.”

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