By James Hibberd
April 04, 2018 at 12:46 PM EDT
  • TV Show

The Duffer brothers are breaking their silence on a lawsuit alleging the writer-producer duo stole the concept for their Netflix hit Stranger Things.

Their attorney Alex Kohner issued a statement Wednesday blasting plaintiff Charlie Kessler, who accused Matt and Ross Duffer of ripping off his 2012 short film “Montauk.”

“Mr. Kessler’s claim is completely meritless. He 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. This is just an attempt to profit from other people’s creativity and hard work.”

Kessler claims he pitched the concept for Stranger Things to the Duffers in 2014 at a party at the Tribeca Film Festival for a series called The Montauk Project, and later “presented materials” from his representatives that included his short film. Then the Duffers sold Stranger Things to Netflix in 2015 under the Montauk title.

Stranger Things was originally set in Montauk, Long Island, but the show changed its setting to Indiana (and filmed in Georgia).

Kessler’s original Montauk outline has several story beats that echo Stranger Things: A young boy who disappears, a cop with a haunted past vows to find him, there’s mysterious conspiracy at a nearby military base that’s conducting secret experiments on children, and a monster that’s created by a portal to another dimension that resembles the child’s toy.

The short film is based on a real-life conspiracy theory about Montauk involving secret paranormal government experiments at the base in the 1970s. Stranger Things was reportedly originally inspired by the same events that inspired Kessler’s film. Kessler is demanding both monetary damages and a jury trial.

Meanwhile, the Duffer Brothers are currently working on Stranger Things season three, which is likely to premiere in 2019.

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