Plagiarism, or two projects with the same inspiration?
The creators of 'Stranger Things', Matt and Ross Duffer, are being accused of stealing the idea for the hit Netflix series from a 2012 short film entitled 'Montauk' by Charlie Kessler. He has filed a lawsuit against the writing duo, citing the original title of the show, which matches that of his project, as evidence of the idea theft.
The Duffer Brothers at the WGA Awards
Originally, 'Stranger Things' was bought by Netflix under the title of 'Montauk'; that was back in 2015. Essentially, the concept of the story - a missing boy, mysterious supernatural forces, government experiments, an unusual girl and even the 80s theme - stayed pretty much the same, but in the end they moved the setting from Montauk, Long Island to Indiana.
Now Charlie Kessler is claiming that he pitched the idea, for which he released a six-minute teaser of the same original name in 2012, to the Duffer Brothers at Tribeca Film Festival in 2014 but the project did not appear to go anywhere from there. Certainly Kessler was not involved with the development of 'Stranger Things', which debuted in 2016.
Whether or not the Duffer Brothers 'stole' the idea from Charlie Kessler is unclear, but the latter will certainly have enough problems proving the originality of his own story.
A conspiracy book entitled 'The Montauk Project: Experiments in Time' was published in 1992 by Preston B. Nichols and Peter Moon detailing supposed knowledge of time travel experiments at the Montauk Air Force Base and Camp Hero. It explored all kinds of phenomena inluding the effects of electromagnetic radiation on human hostages, the enhancement of psychic abilities, teleportation, time portholes, extraterrestrial communication and even the arrival of an alien monster through a time tunnel which destroyed equipment and slaughtered researchers.
There's certainly no copyright on writing fictitious accounts of historical events and conspiracy theories, so Kessler will have to prove that Duffer lifted the original parts of their storyline from his 'Montauk' short.