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A judge has ruled that a pending lawsuit against Stranger Things creators Matt and Ross Duffer will indeed go to trial in the near future, ahead of the Netflix series' Season 3 debut. The ruling came after The Duffer Brothers attempted to have the plagiarism lawsuit against them dismissed, and they now have less than a month before the case is set to go to trial.
L.A. Superior Court Judge Michael Stern's ruling comes roughly a year after Charlie Kessler first filed a plagiarism lawsuit against The Duffer Brothers. In his decision, Stern stated that there is little official evidence that proves The Duffer Brothers created the idea for Stranger Things, per Deadline. The case will proceed to trial on May 6.
Without concrete proof that Matt and Ross Duffer, and not the plaintiff, conceived enough of the show's central concept, the case will proceed through the L.A. court system. This news follows an earlier report that the Duffers believed they had enough proof to disprove the lawsuit in the form of a set of emails exchanged between the brothers in November 2010.
It was also reported that a Google document that seemed to set Stranger Things’ premise in place was dated in October 2013. As well, a pair of emails dated from February and April 2014 showed the brothers talking about details of the would-be Stranger Things series.
Those alleged exchanges pre-dated when the plaintiff says he originated the idea and pitched the story to them. According to Charlie Kessler, that conversation happened during a party at the Tribeca Film Festival in April 2014. While there, he says that he pitched “the script, ideas, story and film” to the Duffers.
The plaintiff, Charlie Kessler, also has a 2012 short film titled Montauk, and that project is also at the base of his claims. The plot for that film contains similarities to the now well-known premise for Stranger Things, which premiered on Netflix in July 2016. Fast forward to April 17, 2019, when a judge ruled there was "little independent verifying evidence of the originality of their idea.”
Charlie Kessler’s movie tells the story of a missing young boy, a nearby military base experimenting on kids, and a creature from an alternate dimension. As viewers know, all of those plot points exist and are crucial to the premise of the Netflix series.
The key difference between the two is that Montauk is set in Long Island, while Stranger Things is set in Indiana. However, Stranger Things was also initially set in Long Island. That is not where the similarities end. Before it became Stranger Things, the Netflix series was originally titled Montauk, obviously the same title as Charlie Kessler’s short film.
Shortly after Charlie Kessler filed his lawsuit, the Duffer Brothers fired back, releasing a statement through their lawyer that denied Kessler having any connection to Stranger Things' “creation or development.” They further called Kessler’s claim “completely meritless.”
The trial is set to start two months before Stranger Things’ third season is released on Netflix, but it likely won't get figured out before then. Watch Season 3 when it premieres July 4 on Netflix.