“Back To The Future”…Happy 25th!
[b]BACK TO THE ‘80s
REMEMBERING “BACK TO THE FUTURE” ON ITS 25th ANNIVERSARY
Compiled by Michael Coate[/b]
He was never in time for his classes… He wasn’t in time for his dinner… Then one day…he wasn’t in his time at all.
The most popular movie of 1985, and one of the most popular of the 1980s, Back To The Future was released twenty-five years ago today. Robert Zemeckis' “comedy adventure science fiction time travel love story” is remembered for its wonderful cast headed by Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd and for its clever, Oscar-nominated screenplay full of effectively executed set-ups and pay-offs. And on the occasion of the 25th anniversary of this crowd-pleaser, I thought I’d present a collection of information that includes some production history, historical data and trivia. So, without further ado, enjoy this quick-reference anniversary tribute to Back To The Future.
PRINCIPAL CAST & CREW
Marty McFly —– Michael J. Fox
Doctor Emmett Brown —– Christopher Lloyd
Lorraine Baines —– Lea Thompson
George McFly —– Crispin Glover
Biff Tannen —– Thomas F. Wilson
Director —– Robert Zemeckis
Producers —– Bob Gale and Neil Canton
Screenplay —– Robert Zemeckis & Bob Gale
Executive Producers —– Steven Spielberg, Frank Marshall, Kathleen Kennedy
Director of Photography —– Dean Cundey
Production Designer —– Lawrence G. Paull
Editors —– Arthur Schmidt, Harry Keramidas
Music —– Alan Silvestri
Distributor —– Universal Pictures
Production Company —– Amblin Entertainment
Release Date —– July 3, 1985
Running Time —– 116 minutes
Projection Format —– 1.85:1
Sound Format —– Dolby Stereo
MPAA Rating —– PG
1 = Rank on top-grossing films of 1985
1 = Number of Academy Awards
4 = Number of Academy Award nominations
9 = Rank on all-time list of top-grossing films at close of run
11 = Number of weeks it was the nation’s top-grossing film
46 = Number of days it took to surpass $100 million
54 = Rank on current list of all-time top-grossing films (adjusted for inflation)
94 = Rank on current list of all-time top-grossing films
231 = Number of days it took to surpass $200 million
1,419 = Number of opening-week bookings in the United States and Canada
$11.1 million = Opening-weekend box-office gross
$19.0 million = Production cost
$170.5 million = Cumulative international box-office gross
$210.6 million = Cumulative domestic box-office gross
$374.7 million = Cumulative domestic box-office gross (adjusted for inflation)
$381.1 million = Cumulative worldwide box-office gross
“If my calculations are correct, when this baby hits eighty-eight miles per hour…you’re gonna see some serious sh*t.” — Doc Brown
“Whoa. Wait a minute, Doc. Are you trying to tell me that my mother…has got the hots for me?” — Marty
“Last night, Darth Vader came down from planet Vulcan and told me that if I didn’t take Lorraine out, that he’d melt my brain.” — George McFly
“Roads? Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.” — Doc Brown
WHAT THE CRITICS HAD TO SAY
“4 Stars! One of the most endearing and accomplished of entertainments. The writing here is really the star. It would be a classic even in Hollywood’s golden era.” — Gene Siskel, Chicago Tribune/At The Movies
“One sensational movie. Ingenious, hilarious and wonderfully touching.” — Dennis Cunningham, CBS-TV
“Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale have made a true American comedy with the sweet wit and benevolent bite of Preston Sturges and Frank Capra.” — Jack Kroll, Newsweek
“What movie-goer of any age could resist it?” — Richard Corliss, Time Magazine
“An uplifting reminder that Hollywood can still provide truly great entertainment. A faultless, exquisitely developed script and a perfect cast.” — Michael Blowen, The Boston Globe
“A masterpiece of comic structure.” — Rick Lyman, The Philadelphia Inquirer
“It works with charm, brains and a lot of laughter.” — Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times/At The Movies
“A high energy film full of great ideas and good spirits.” — Leonard Maltin, Entertainment Tonight
“[Director Robert Zemeckis] handles Back To The Future with the kind of inventiveness that indicates he will be spinning funny, whimsical tall tales for a long time to come.” — Janet Maslin, The New York Times
TRIVIA & FACTOIDS
Two theaters are featured in the movie’s fictional town of Hill Valley: the Essex and the Town.
A few of the 1,400+ prints struck for Back To The Future’s initial release were in the 70mm Six-Track Dolby Stereo format. The markets in which these coveted 70mm prints played first-run included Dallas (Northpark I & II), Los Angeles (Avco Center and Cinerama Dome), New York (State Twin), San Francisco (Regency I), and Toronto (Hyland). In addition, there were some 70mm sub-run/moveover bookings later in the film’s run in markets such as Chicago (Tivoli). The 70mm presentation was, arguably, the best way to experience Back To The Future and the only way to faithfully hear the movie’s Oscar-nominated sound mix.
During much of the production of Back To The Future, Michael J. Fox was working on the Family Ties television series. He would work on the TV show during the day and Back To The Future at night and on weekends.
Back To The Future inspired two sequels, a theme park attraction, and an animated TV series.
In early drafts of the screenplay, the time machine was a refrigerator.
A few weeks before its release, Back To The Future was test-screened at the Century 22 in San Jose, California.
Back To The Future was nominated for four Academy Awards: Original Screenplay, Sound, Sound Effects Editing, and Original Song (“The Power Of Love”). It was awarded the Oscar for Best Sound Effects Editing. Other awards included a Saturn for Best Actor (Michael J. Fox), Best Science Fiction Film, and Best Special Effects; a Hugo for Best Dramatic Presentation; and a People’s Choice Award for Favorite Motion Picture.
Acclaimed artist Drew Struzan painted the image used on the film’s promotional material.
The character of Biff Tannen was named after Universal Pictures executive Ned Tanen (who reportedly had a reputation of a bully).
Huey Lewis had a small role in the film as one of the dance audition judges (“I’m afraid you’re just too darn loud”). Lewis was the first in a line of famous musicians to appear in the Back To The Future movies. (Flea, of the Red Hot Chili Peppers, appeared in Part II, and ZZ Top appeared in Part III.) The song Marty’s band plays is a heavy metal version of Huey Lewis and the News' “The Power Of Love,” one of their two songs featured in the film.
Eric Stoltz (Mask) was originally cast in the role of Marty McFly but was replaced by Michael J. Fox a few weeks into production. Stoltz had previously starred in The Wild Life (1984), which also featured Lea Thompson and, as well, featured music by Edward Van Halen, a cue of which was used in one humorous scene in Back To The Future.
If Universal executive Sid Sheinberg had gotten his way, Back To The Future would have been titled Space Man From Pluto.
Back To The Future was released on home video in the spring of 1986. The home video and TV version ended with a “To Be Continued” credit not present in the original theatrical edition.
Back To The Future was filmed at locations throughout Southern California, including the Los Angeles communities of Arleta, Hollywood, and Los Feliz; as well as the cities of Burbank, Chino, City of Industry, Pasadena, and Whittier; the unincorporated area of Newhall (known today as part of the city of Santa Clarita); and some stage and backlot work at Universal Studios.
Back To The Future was the top grossing film in the United States and Canada for eleven of its first twelve weeks of release.
Back To The Future is scheduled for release on Blu-ray Disc on October 26, 2010. (Part of the movie’s contemporary 1985 scenes were set on the date October 26.)
Primary references for this project were daily major-city newspapers archived digitally and/or on microfilm. Magazines referenced included Newsweek, Time, and the Back To The Future Souvenir Magazine, (1985, Ira Friedman, Inc). Books referenced included George Lucas’s Blockbusting: A Decade-By-Decade Survey Of Timeless Movies Including Untold Secrets Of Their Financial And Cultural Success edited by Alex Ben Block and Lucy Autrey Wilson (2010, George Lucas Books/HarperCollins). The following film was referenced: Back To The Future (1985, Amblin Entertainment/Universal Pictures). Also referenced were supplemental features from the Back To The Future DVD. Websites referenced include BoxOfficeMojo and CinemaTreasures.
Special Thanks: Steve Kraus, Bill Kretzel, Tim O'Neill.
You are invited to share any memories you have of seeing Back To The Future or any thoughts you may have pertaining to this retrospective article.