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Duffer brothers call ‘Stranger Things’ plagiarism claim ‘completely meritless’

Filmmaker Charlie Kessler had alleged that Matt and Ross Duffer had taken the concept of their hit Netflix show from his 2012 short.

Stranger Things creators Matt and Ross Duffer on Tuesday said that the allegation that they had stolen the concept of their show from a 2012 short film by Charlie Kessler was “completely meritless”.

In a statement to People on Wednesday, the Duffer brothers’ attorney Alex Kohner said that Kessler “had no connection to the creation or development of Stranger Things”.

“The Duffer Brothers have neither seen Mr. Kessler’s short film nor discussed any project with him,” Kohner said. “This is just an attempt to profit from other people’s creativity and hard work.”

Kessler had filed a lawsuit on Tuesday accusing the Duffer brothers of “misappropriation, unauthorised use and exploitation”of his short film Montauk and the script for a feature based on it, The Montauk Project. Kessler claimed he pitched the idea to develop the short film into a television series to the Duffer siblings at a party during the Tribeca Film Festival in 2014.

According to a 2015 Deadline report, Stranger Things was ordered for eight episodes by Netflix under the title Montauk. However, a Deadline report on Wednesday pointed out that Stranger Things and Kessler’s Montauk were preceded by a 1992 book of conspiracy theories called The Montauk Project: Experiments in Time, about a series of secret government experiments at an air force base at Montauk, Long Island.

The Stranger Things creators later shifted the setting of the show to Indiana, but retained the theme of supernatural occurrences in the vicinity of a government facility. The first season centred on the disappearance of a boy and the efforts of his mother and a group of children to find him.

Kessler’s science-fiction story was set near an abandoned military base and involved a missing boy and a monster that resembles a toy.

Stranger Things first aired in July 2016 and features Millie Bobby Brown, Caleb McLaughlin, Finn Wolfhard, Noah Schnapp and Gaten Matarazzo in lead roles. It was recently renewed for a third season.

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