'Stranger Things' Plagiarism Trial May Actually Spoil Season 3 Plot Details

Unlike Marvel and HBO, who worry about spoilers from sneaky fans and Reddit, Netflix and the Duffer Brothers are worried about Stranger Things Season 3 spoilers because of the U.S. legal system.

The creators of the hit show are officially going to trial over accusations of plagiarism. And because of public disclosure, this may mean plot details of Stranger Things Season 3 could be made public before its Netflix premiere on July 4.

On Wednesday, a Los Angeles Superior Court denied a summary judgement filed by Matt and Ross Duffer, who, as of now, are still considered the creators of Stranger Things on Netflix.

The Duffers are retaliating against accusations of plagiarism from filmmaker Charlie Kessler, who alleges that the series is based on his feature film script The Montauk Project, which is based off the real-life conspiracy theories involving top secret projects conducted by the U.S. government in Montauk, Long Island.

In his April 2018 suit, Kessler accused the Duffers of lifting his movie plot after they met at the 2014 Tribeca Film Festival and Kessler shared his ideas with them. In their February 2019 motion, the Duffers argued this interaction didn’t “manifest any intent to enter into a binding agreement.”

Now that the courts have denied the Duffers’ motion, both parties will begin trial on May 6. As the trial will take place before the new season premiere on July 4, this means plot details of the new season could be made public as the Duffers make their argument against Kessler’s accusations.

Stranger Things Netflix
The cast of Netflix's 'Stranger Things' Season 3.

The Hollywood Reporter quoted the Duffers’ lawyer’s briefing, which state that “public disclosure threatens substantial harm not only to their legitimate privacy interests, but also as to their ongoing commercial efforts, including by revealing confidential information that may be included in future episodes of Stranger Things and weakening the Duffers’ (and Netflix’s) position in future commercial negotiations.”

The Duffers and Netflix believe they have a strong argument against Kessler. “The Duffer Brothers have our full support,” a Netflix spokesperson told The Hollywood Reporter, “This case has no merit, which we look forward to being confirmed by a full hearing of the facts in court.”

However, the judge ruled that without evidence, “we are left with an issue of determining credibility that must be decided by the trier of fact … Moreover, whether or not there is a similarity between the concepts to be discerned by comparing them is a subissue of independent creation that must be decided by the trier of fact.”

In other words, this is going to be a really difficult trial as all parties parse out what ideas or creative material the Duffers may or may not have stolen from Kessler. However it comes into play, the plaintiff actually produced a 2012 short based on his idea. Titled Montauk, the film is a found-footage film revolving around some creepy, paranormal activity in Long Island.

“I did grow up on Long Island, I had spent a lot of time going out to Montauk. Was always fascinated with urban legends in general and specifically local folklore,” Kessler told Slashfilm in a December 2012 interview. “So having loved the area, I especially got fascinated with one called The Montauk Project, which was a supposed set of highly classified government experiments in Camp Hero State Park out in Montauk. It’s based on that, if it’s real or not is certainly up for debate.”

As the trial begins, fans can still interact with the show in a totally legal way when Hasbro and Wizards of the Coast release a special Dungeons & Dragons starter kit based on the series that, coincidentally, is supposed to arrive in stores just as the trial begins.

Stranger Things Season 3 premieres on Netflix on July 4.

Media via Netflix