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Stranger Things producers issue hilarious cease-and-desist letter to Chicago bar

“Don’t make us call your mom”

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Charlie Hall is Polygon’s tabletop editor. In 10-plus years as a journalist & photographer, he has covered simulation, strategy, and spacefaring games, as well as public policy.

A Chicago bar decided to convert its event space into a Stranger Things-themed pop-up. That prompted Netflix, which produces the show, to issue a charming cease-and-desist letter. That same letter was also pretty firm in recommending that they ask permission before they pull a stunt like that again.

Back in August, the team behind the Emporium Arcade Bar opened a pop-up shop called The Upside Down, a temporary mock-up of Joyce Byers’ living room with a little bit of the Mirkwood Forest and the Hawkins Middle School thrown in. The themed area is now scheduled to be in place until Oct. 1.

But, as DNA Chicago reports, Netflix did not look too kindly on the project. Its cease-and-desist letter is dated Aug. 23.

“My walkie talkie is busted,” begins the letter, which is signed by Netflix’s senior counsel, “so I had to write this note instead. I heard you launched a Stranger Things pop-up bar at your Logan Square location. Look, I don’t want you to think I’m a total wastoid, and I love how much you guys love the show. (Just wait until you see Season 2!) But unless I’m living in the Upside Down, I don’t think we did a deal with you.”

Netflix may be speaking softly here, but they are carrying a pretty big stick. The meat of their request asked The Emporium to shut the pop-up down as planned, and to ask for formal permission next time.

“We love our fans more than anything,” it said, “but you should know that the demogorgon is not always as forgiving. So please don’t make us call your mom.”

That, my friends, is how the leader in online streaming television managed to turn a bad legal situation into an A-plus lesson in good public relations.

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