The Duffer Brothers’ attorneys filed several requests at Los Angeles Superior Court ahead of their trial next week, according to Deadline. The brothers were accused of allegedly plagiarizing the Stranger Things plot by Charlie Kessler, who allegedly pitched the story for his film Montauk to them back in 2014 at the Tribeca Film Festival. The brothers had failed to get the claims dismissed, making their filings to the court seem quite bold considering the circumstances. Nevertheless, here are some of the requests the brothers have made.
First, the Duffers’ lawyers specify that the jury be selected based on certain criteria. Here are some of the questions they have requested be asked in order to select a proper jury: “do you watch movies?”; “do you have a subscription to a media streaming service, like Netflix?”; “How many of you have never seen Stranger Things?”; “have you ever heard of any urban legends out of Montauk, New York?”; and “have you ever been to an entertainment industry party?”
Other requests that were made to L.A. Superior Court Judge Michael Stern included the desire for certain documents to remain sealed in order to preserve “confidential, personal financial information, including information regarding their compensation on Stranger Things,” along with the “unredacted Stranger Things mythology document, which contains unreleased, secret character and plot elements central to upcoming episodes of the series.” The attorneys argued that releasing such information to the jury and the public would “directly prejudice their interests by jeopardizing ongoing interest in Stranger Things and compromising both the Duffers’ and Netflix’s future negotiating positions.” Therefore, the Duffer brothers have “prepared a redacted version of the Stranger Things mythology document that allows public review of the material already disclosed in the series’ released episodes.”
On Kessler’s side, his lawyer claims that the Duffer brothers are doing so in order to conceal relevant details. According to S. Michael Kernan, Kessler’s lawyer, “The Duffer Brothers keep saying that, when the truth comes out, they will prevail,” adding that “they did not prevail on the motion for summary judgment, and now they are trying to block the truth from coming out.” Kernan also told Deadline that by doing so, “They are seeking to preclude: evidence about the theft Mr. Kessler’s name of the project; evidence Mr. Kessler is producing a film about civil rights icon Rosa Parks; evidence they entered into a contract; and evidence that Mr. Kessler sent his script to their agent. That is hardly wanting the truth to come out.”
In April of 2018, Kessler also alleged that “the script, ideas, story and film” of Montauk were all divulged to the brothers, and alleged that those materials were allegedly used by the brothers to create Stranger Things. At this time, the Duffer brothers claimed that his allegations were false and an “attempt to profit” from the now popular series. Kessler added to his allegation that the brothers had allegedly used The Montauk Project as the working title for Stranger Things. It is true that when first beginning the project with Netflix, the Duffer brothers had used the working title of Montauk back in 2015, according to Deadline. It is also true that the project was originally set in Long Island, along with other similarities to Kessler’s project such as the ideas of a missing boy and a military base that conducts experiments on children as well as a monster.
Kessler also had a few requests concerning what documents should not be presented in the trial. One of these was the full Stranger Things series, as, according to the document, “Mr. Kessler’s claims arise solely from the Defendants’ pilot script and not from the series Stranger Things.” Additionally, the document claims that by doing so, it might make the jury biased: “evidence of Stranger Things will unfairly prejudice Mr. Kessler, as the distribution of the series during trial will ignite the passions of the jury. Additionally, showing the series would confuse the jury as to the ultimate issues in contention, and waste an unnecessary amount of trial time.” The motion also states that due to the fact that the series was based on the pilot and written by multiple writers in a writer’s room, it is irrelevant to the case, and “As such, the series is no longer even Defendants’ sole creation, but rather a collaborative work product of writers. Therefore, offering the series into evidence is wholly irrelevant as to whether Defendants’ stole Mr. Kessler’s ideas from his pitch, and subsequently used them in their pilot.”
Season 3 of Stranger Things is still set to launch on Netflix July 4th.