Charlie Kessler claims Stranger Things' creators Matt and Ross Duffer allegedly stole his idea

By Karen Mizoguchi
April 03, 2018 06:05 PM

The minds behind Stranger Things are being accused of copying a filmmaker’s original idea.

In a lawsuit filed Monday in Los Angeles and obtained by PEOPLE, Charlie Kessler accuses Stranger Things creators Matt and Ross Duffer of “misappropriation, unauthorized use and exploitation” of his 2012 short film, Montauk, as well as his script for The Montauk Project.

Kessler describes his film as a “science fiction story set in the town of Montauk, New York, the location of various urban legends and paranormal and conspiracy theories” with the primary location of the story an “abandoned military base.”

In the lawsuit, Kessler also claims he pitched the Montauk idea to the Duffer brothers at an April 2014 party during the Tribeca Film Festival. “At this party, the script, ideas, story and film referred to were discussed and presented to [Matt and Ross],” he alleges.

A rep for Netflix did not immediately respond to PEOPLE’s request for comment.

Matt and Ross Duffer in January
| Credit: Frederick M. Brown/Getty

Strangers Things, which first aired in July 2016, was ordered for eight episodes by Netflix under the title Montauk, according to an April 2015 report by Deadline.

The three-time Emmy Award-nominated drama, starring Millie Bobby Brown, Caleb McLaughlin, Finn Wolfhard, Noah Schnapp and Gaten Matarazzo, changed its setting to Indiana.

Stranger Things is now in its second season on Netflix and has enriched [Matt and Ross] to the tune of millions of dollars,” the court documents state. “[Matt and Ross] have made huge sums of money by producing the series based on [Kessler]’s concepts without compensating or crediting [Kessler] for his concepts.”

Kessler is asking for monetary damages and demanding a jury trial.