‘Stranger Things’ creators face trial amid idea theft allegations
The creators of Stranger Things are currently facing a lawsuit involving the show, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Allegedly, Matt and Ross Duffer are being accused of stealing the idea for the series from a project that was pitched at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival.
A filmmaker by the name of Charlie Kessler alleges the brotherly team’s project takes on the themes brought forth by the script for The Montauk Project, which details “various urban legends, and paranormal and conspiracy theories.”
“Charlie Kessler asserts that he met the Duffers, then two young filmmakers whom Kessler never had heard of, and chatted with them for 10 to 15 minutes,” the defendant’s attorney says. “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.”
The lawsuit in question deals with breaching an implied contract, with the implied contract being that short conversation.
However, according to The Hollywood Reporter, the Duffer brothers have refuted the claims, saying their ideas for Stranger Things were organic and independent.
Additionally, the Duffer brothers say they had been fascinated with conspiracy theories for four years prior to the alleged Tribeca Film Festival conversation when they began to work on film of that same nature.
“The Duffer brothers have our full support,” a Netflix spokesperson says in a story with The Hollywood Reporter. “This case has no merit, which we look forward to being confirmed by a full hearing of the facts in court.”
However, the Duffer brothers were denied their motion for summary judgment, which would automatically confirm the case lacked merit and proof, leaving Kessler’s team an open door to proceed with the trial.
Now, a judge says the issue at hand is determining whether or not an implied contract was formed in the first place.
“The circumstances under which [Kessler] claims to have submitted his ideas to the defendants are not analogous. The plaintiff’s claimed expectations also differ significantly. He contemplated commercial exploitation and profitability,” the judge says in a court order. “Triable issues of fact remain to be determined concerning what plaintiff said, what he meant to convey by his conversation and how the defendants responded before it can be definitively concluded whether or not an implied in fact contract was formed.”
However, Kessler’s attorney disagrees with the Duffer brothers’ intent. The attorney argues that the success of the show is enough to urge the Duffer brothers to deem him as a part of the creation of the series.
“If defendants made $1 million from writing and producing a series, a show that exists solely because of the ideas pitched to them by Mr. Kessler under the implied contract, then Mr. Kessler's damages for his share of the joint venture would be one-third of the monies received, or $333,333.33,” Kessler’s attorney says.
Money talks aside, Kessler additionally brings up another instance of alleged idea theft from the Duffer brothers regarding their 2015 screenplay, Hidden. Kessler suggests the idea for that was created by a roommate of the brothers.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, the trial is slated for May 6.
What do you think of the latest lawsuit involving the creators of Stranger Things? Sound off in the comments below.