Friday, July 3, 2015

Happy Thirtieth Anniversary To Back To The Future

Happy Thirtieth (!) Anniversary to Back To The Future! It premiered on July 3, 1985. Thirty years! Can you believe it?

It went on to become the highest grossing film of 1985, earning $210 in America alone. Naturally with that kind of box office gross, a sequel was inevitable, despite the fact that the film was wrapped up satisfactorily at the end. Back To The Future 2 and 3 were filmed at the same time, something that had never been attempted before.

Somehow I never got around to seeing the film in the theater, and had to catch it a few months later on home video. No matter, I still loved it and became an instant fan. The sequels were both OK— the second one gave us a fun look at the far off year of 2015 (!), while the second wrapped up everything with a nice big bow (even if it did have to do its share of retconning). The original's still the best though, and gives us the illusion of internally consistent time travel.

A few Future Facts:

• The script was rejected forty times by every major studio. Disney reportedly passed on it because of the "incestuous" relationship between Marty and his mother (!).

• Writer/Producer Bob Gale got the idea for the film when he was looking through his father's high school yearbook, and wondered if they'd have been friends if he'd known him back then.

• A Universal Studios executive worried that no one would go see a movie with the word "future" in the title, so he suggested calling it Spaceman From Pluto (referencing Marty's line when he's trying to scare his father George). Luckily producer Steven Spielberg came to the rescue, telling the studio executive he appreciated his "humorous memo."

Somewhere out there in a parallel universe, people are watching the Spaceman From Pluto trilogy.

• As most fans know by now, Michael J. Fox was not the original Marty McFly. Actor Eric Stoltz was cast as Marty, and spent around ten weeks on the project. Unfortunately for him, director Robert Zemeckis decided he wasn't right for the part, and made the painful decision to fire him.

Fox was then hired, all the Marty scenes were reshot, and the rest is film history.

It was a hectic time for Fox, as he was filming his TV series Family Ties during the day, and shooting Back To The Future at night.

Ralph Macchio, Johnny Depp, Charlie Sheen and John Cusack were all considered for the role of Marty.

• In the original script, the time machine was built inside a refrigerator rather than a Delorean (!). The Delorean was supposedly picked because its gull-wing doors could reasonably be mistaken (by someone in the 1950s) for a UFO.

• George's nemesis Biff Tannen was named after Ned Tanen, a Universal executive who didn't like Robert Zemeckis. Let that be a lesson to everyone— be nice to future film directors!

Tim Robbins was considered for the role of Biff.

• John Lithgow, Jeff Goldblum and Dudley Moore were considered for the part of Doc Brown. Lithgow and Goldblum I can kind of see, but Dudley Moore? Oy.

By the way, did you ever wonder about Marty and Doc's relationship? According to writer Bob Gale, Marty once sneaked into Doc Brown's lab, and was impressed by all his cool equipment and paraphernalia. Doc liked the fact that Marty didn't think he was a strange outcast, and the two struck up a friendship. Doc then offered Marty a part-time job cleaning up the lab and taking care of his dog Einstein.

• Speaking of Einstein, in the original script Doc Brown had a pet chimp (named Shemp) instead of a dog.

• Billy Zane stars as one of Biff's goons, in his first film role.

• Michael J. Fox is three years older than Crispin Glover, who plays his dad. This wasn't a problem in the 1950s scenes, but was a bit odd during the "present."

• Huey Lewis wrote two songs for the soundtrack, and has a cameo in the film as the contest judge who tells Marty his band is too loud.

So Happy Thirtieth Anniversary to Back To The Future! Let's hope Hollywood leaves the trilogy alone and doesn't try remaking it with Justin Beiber or someone equally horrible.

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