The rights to the film and its sequels are owned by Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale. In a 2015 interview, Zemeckis maintained that no reboot or remake of the franchise would be authorized during his or Gale's lifetime.
In 2010, during a cast reunion, Michael J. Fox said that strangers still call him "McFly!" constantly. Fox said that the most remarkable instance was when he was in a remote jungle in the South Asian country Bhutan, located between China and India in the eastern Himalayas. A group of Buddhist monks passed him and one of them looked at Fox and said, "Marty McFly!"
Apparently, Ronald Reagan was amused by Doc Brown's disbelief that an actor like him could become President, so much so that he had the projectionist stop and replay the scene. He also seemed to enjoy it so much that he even made a direct reference of the film in his 1986 State of the Union address, "As they said in the film Back to the Future (1985), 'Where we're going, we don't need roads.'"
When Lorraine follows Marty back to Doc's house, she and Doc exchange an awkward greeting. This marks the only on-screen dialogue that Christopher Lloyd and Lea Thompson ever have, though they have appeared together in six movies.
When this movie was previewed for a test audience, Industrial Light and Magic had not completed the final DeLorean-in-flight shot, and the last several minutes of the movie were previewed in black and white. It didn't matter, as the audience roared in approval of the final scene anyway.
Universal Pictures head Sid Sheinberg did not like the title "Back to the Future", insisting that nobody would see a movie with "future" in the title. In a memo to Robert Zemeckis, he said that the title should be changed to "Spaceman From Pluto", tying in with the Marty-as-alien jokes in the film, and also suggested further changes like replacing the "I'm Darth Vader from planet Vulcan" line with "I am a spaceman from Pluto!" Sheinberg was persuaded to change his mind by a response memo from Steven Spielberg, which thanked him for sending a wonderful "joke memo", and that everyone got a kick out of it. Sheinberg, too proud to admit he was serious, gave in to letting the film retain its title.
The inspiration for the film largely stems from Bob Gale discovering his father's high school yearbook and wondering whether he would have been friends with his father as a teenager. Gale also said that if he had the chance to go back in time, he would really go back and see if they would have been friends.
Crispin Glover claimed to have seen the film only once, shortly after its release. In contrast, Christopher Lloyd stated that when he occasionally stumbled across a Back to the Future film while channel surfing, he would often sit and watch it.
Doc's distinctive hunched-over look developed when the filmmakers realized the extreme difference in height between Christopher Lloyd and Michael J. Fox; Fox is 5' 4½" while Lloyd is 6' 1". To compensate for the height difference, director Robert Zemeckis used specific blocking where the two often stood far apart at different camera depths. For close-ups, Lloyd would have to hunch over to appear in frame with Fox. The same approach was used in the sequels.
Michael J. Fox had always been the first choice for Marty, but he was unavailable due to scheduling conflicts with his work on Family Ties (1982). As "Family Ties" co-star Meredith Baxter was pregnant at the time, Fox was carrying a lot more of the show than usual. The show's producer Gary David Goldberg simply couldn't afford to let Fox go. Zemeckis and Gale then cast Eric Stoltz as Marty based on his performance in Mask (1985). After six weeks of filming Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale felt that Stoltz wasn't right for the part, and Stoltz agreed. By this stage, Baxter was back fully on the show and Goldberg agreed to let Fox go off to make the film. Fox worked out a schedule to fulfill his commitment to both projects. Every day during production, he drove straight to the movie set after taping of the show was finished every day and averaged about five hours of sleep. The bulk of the production was filmed from 6 p.m. to 6 a.m., with the daylight scenes filmed on weekends. Reshooting Stoltz's scenes added $3 million to the budget.
Thomas F. Wilson almost had his collarbone broken in the scene where Marty and Biff are about to fight in the cafeteria, as Eric Stoltz roughed up Tom for real, take after take, despite repeated requests from Tom to tone down the aggression. Tom later said he was about to return the favor during filming of the car park scene outside the dance, but Eric was fired before that confrontation could take place.
A persistent myth is that Michael J. Fox had to learn to skateboard for the film. In fact, he was a reasonably skilled skateboarder, having ridden throughout high school. However, Per Welinder acted as a skateboarding double for the complex scenes. He also choreographed and coordinated the skateboarding action together with Robert Schmelzer.
According to an interview he did on The Tonight Show Starring Johnny Carson (1962), Crispin Glover lost his voice, due to nervousness, while filming this movie. For some scenes, he had to silently mouth his lines, with his voice being dubbed in later at a recording studio.
The parts of the script with references to President Ronald Reagan needed to be reviewed by the White House for approval, so as not to offend the President. Producers had some concerns over Reagan's reaction to Doc Brown's famous line mocking the improbability of his being President in 1985, but Reagan was said to get a real kick out of it.
During his time on the film, and being a method actor, Eric Stoltz refused to answer to any other name, but that of his character, Marty Mcfly. When Christopher Lloyd was told that Stoltz was to be replaced, he asked 'Who's Eric?" and after further explanation added "Oh, I really thought his name was Marty".
According to Bob Gale, Johnny Depp auditioned for the role of Marty McFly: "I looked through the notes, and I said, 'Geez, I don't even remember that we read Johnny Depp!' So whatever he did, it wasn't all that memorable, I guess!"
While filming the "parking" scene with Marty and young Lorraine in the car, the production crew decided to play a practical joke at Michael J. Fox's expense. The scene called for Fox to drink from a prop liquor bottle filled with water and do a spit take when he sees Lorraine with a cigarette. For a specific take however, the prop liquor bottle was switched for one which contained real alcohol inside. Fox, unaware of this, performed the scene and drank from the bottle, only to discover the switch after-the-fact. The full gag is featured on the "Outtakes" section of the DVD.
Doc Brown refers to "jigawatts" of electricity. This is the now-obscure but once-standard pronunciation of the word "gigawatt," one billion watts. Nowadays it is usually pronounced with a hard "g." In romance languages, however, it's pronounced with a soft "g."
Huey Lewis was asked by Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale to write a song for the film. However, the two Bobs were not thrilled with the first song Huey brought back to them. After explaining what they were hoping for, Huey came back with "The Power of Love". He was then told they needed one more song, and so, upon viewing a cut of the film, Huey got the inspiration for "Back in Time".
The test audience, to whom the movie was initially screened, was not told that the movie was intended to be a comedy. Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale recalled that the atmosphere in the cinema started to get really tense during the scene where Einstein the dog is sent through time, because the audience was expecting that something gruesome had happened to the dog.
Michael J. Fox has said that Marty's being characterized as riding skateboards, chasing girls, and interests in playing music, with hopes of becoming a rock star, was the exact same way he was during his own high school days.
Although Eric Stoltz's scenes were all re-shot with Michael J. Fox, one image of Stoltz remains. During one scene in the 1950s diner, there is a close-up of Biff's face as Marty launches a punch at him, and this was not re-shot, so that as well as Stoltz's hand and arm, his head is also visible to the left of the screen for a few frames.
When Robert Zemeckis was trying to sell the idea of this film, one of the companies he approached was Disney, who turned it down because they thought that the premise of a mother falling in love with her son (albeit by a twist of time travel) was too risqué for a film under their banner. In fact, Disney was the only company to consider the film too risqué. All other companies said that the film was not risqué enough, compared to other teen comedies at the time (for example, Fast Times at Ridgemont High (1982), Revenge of the Nerds (1984), et cetera).
A marketer hoped to get a prominent placement for California Raisins somewhere in the film. He suggested putting a bowl of raisins on a table at the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance. He had also told the California Raisins board that this would do for raisins what E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) did for Reese's Pieces. Bob Gale informed him that a bowl of raisins would photograph like a bowl of dirt. The only thing that appears in the film is Marty jumping over Red, sleeping on a bench that is advertising California Raisins. Unhappy with their product placement, the California Raisins representatives complained to the producers, and had their $5,000 refunded.
Michael J. Fox was allowed by the producer of Family Ties (1982) to film this movie on the condition that he kept his full schedule on the television show, meaning no write-outs or missing episodes, and filmed most of the movie at night. He was not allowed to go on Back to the Future (1985) promotional tours.
In the opening sequence, all of Doc's clocks read 7:53 (twenty-five minutes slow, as said by Doc on the phone) except for some broken clocks on the floor. One of them, next to the case of plutonium, reads about 8:20 (unclear because of the angle) which would make it the only clock in the room right on time.
When Doc Brown first sends Einstein "one minute" into the future, the time elapsed between when the DeLorean disappears and reappears is actually one minute and twenty-one seconds, just as the reappearance occurred at 1:21 a.m., and the flux capacitor required 1.21 gigawatts of electricity.
The Screen Actors Guild can't have two people with the same name on their books. So Michael J. Fox inserted the letter J in his name to differentiate himself from an actor called Michael Fox. In Back to the Future (1985), Marty goes back to the year 1955. His dad is a huge fan of the show Science Fiction Theatre, something Marty uses to his advantage. The original Michael Fox starred in the real Science Fiction Theatre in the year 1955.
The 1985 version of Doc's home is the garage that Marty and Doc hide the DeLorean in, in 1955. In the opening scene, an article shows that the mansion burned down years before, either for insurance money or due to an explosive experiment. The presence of the commercial development also implies that Doc sold the land surrounding the house for more money to fund his project. After all, he does state later that it took "many years and his entire family fortune" to build the time machine.
Despite Marty and Jennifer crediting Doc as the origin of the repeated line "If you put your mind to it, you can accomplish anything" (Jennifer claims it is something he always says), Doc never says the line once in any of the Back to the Future movies. It is Marty who says it first, to his father after the dance. Later, an even older George McFly uses the line.
During Doc's demo of the time machine, just before he is about to leave for the future, he tells Marty "I'll get to see who wins the next twenty-five World Series." At the time the scene was written and shot, no one was thinking there would be a sequel, let alone one where the hook Back to the Future Part II (1989) would be Marty wanting to get a hold of a "sports almanac" so he could bet on games.
Sid Sheinberg, the head of Universal Pictures, requested many changes to be made throughout the movie. Most of these he got, such as having "Professor Brown" changed to "Doc Brown" and his chimp Shemp changed to a dog named Einstein. Marty's mother's name had previously been Meg and then Eileen, but Sheinberg insisted that she be named Lorraine after his wife Lorraine Gary.
When Marty pretends to be Darth Vader from the planet Vulcan, he plays a tape labelled "Edward Van Halen" to scare George out of his sleep. It is an untitled Edward Van Halen original, written for The Wild Life (1984), which featured Lea Thompson, and starred Eric Stoltz.
According to Michael J. Fox on the 2010 DVD and Blu-ray interviews, the interior of the DeLorean was so tight due to the added props that every time he had to shift gears, he would repeatedly hit his forearm on the handle that turns on the time circuits and he would also rap his knuckles hard against the time display board. If you pay attention during the car chase with the terrorists, you can hear these hits every time Marty uses the shifter.
Eric Stoltz insisted that the cast and crew address him as Marty, even when cameras weren't rolling. He would also wear Marty's wardrobe while travelling to and from the set each day. According to Tom Wilson, the only time that method-acting Stoltz would break character was when Eric would actively flirt with Lea Thompson in between takes.
Thomas F. Wilson disliked working with Eric Stoltz, finding him a little too serious and aggressive. Before Stoltz was released, they had already filmed the near-fight between Marty and Biff in the high school cafeteria. During takes of this scene, Stoltz would push back on Wilson so hard that Wilson got bruises. Although in real life, Wilson was nothing like the bully that Biff is, he wanted to get his revenge. He had planned to get back at Stoltz by giving him a real punch in the gut during the scene where he pulls Marty out of the car at the dance. Stoltz was fired before Wilson got that chance.
According to Bob Gale, in one of the early drafts of the script, Marty's original last name was McDermott, but it was thought to have too many syllables. It was Robert Zemeckis who then came up with naming him McFly.
On November 5, 2010, a large number of fans gathered at the Puente Hills Mall to kick off a week long series of events to celebrate the 25th anniversary of this movie. It was here that the city mayor declared October 21, 2010 officially Back To The Future Day for the city.
Christopher Lloyd based his performance as Doc Brown on a combination of physicist Albert Einstein and conductor Leopold Stokowski. Brown's pronunciation of gigawatts as "jigawatts" is based on the way a physicist with whom Zemeckis and Gale met for research said the word.
When Claudia Wells temporarily dropped out due to scheduling conflicts involving the short lived television series Off the Rack (1984), Melora Hardin was briefly cast as Jennifer opposite Eric Stoltz , but had to be replaced after Stoltz was dismissed, and it was discovered she was taller than Michael J. Fox. Hardin was dismissed before she had a chance to shoot a single scene, having only posed for a picture with Stoltz on the set, which was to be developed into the snapshot Marty carries with him.
The gas-powered struts that hold the De Lorean's gullwing doors open would fail during the course of filming a take, so crew members had to be on stand-by with hairdryers to warm them up to stop the doors from drooping.
When Marty McFly leaves Doc Brown's garage because he is late for school, Bob Gale mentioned in a commentary that the garage was actually a flat put next to a Burger King restaurant in Burbank. As part of their agreement with Burger King, the studio wasn't given any money from the restaurant for their cameo, but Burger King did allow the crew to film their scenes for free, and allowed them to park there.
As of 2011, the Hill Valley clock tower set has been through three different fires. The first one happened shortly after the finishing of Back to the Future Part II (1989) and Back to the Future Part III (1990) (filming was done simultaneously) where all the original surrounding buildings burned to the ground by lightning. The second fire in 1994 almost destroyed the structure. In 2008, the fire that destroyed the nearby King Kong (1933) ride/set, along with two archive vaults and the New York street, slightly scorched the tower.
When Marty first arrives in 1955, he crashes into the farm of Old Man Peabody, who has a son named Sherman. This was in tribute to a segment in the The Bullwinkle Show (1959) television series, "Peabody's Improbable History", featuring the intelligent talking dog Mr. Peabody and his boy Sherman, who travel to different times in history using the W.A.B.A.C. Machine, and serve as a major inspiration for Doc Brown, Marty McFly, and the DeLorean time machine. In turn, the feature film Mr. Peabody & Sherman (2014), based on the "Peabody's Improbable History" segment, pays tribute to this movie with not only its overall style, but a clever reference in a scene where Peabody and Sherman travel at unbelievably high speeds in the W.A.B.A.C., travelling at eighty-eight miles per hour (and higher), much like the DeLorean.
In the original script, Doc Brown and Marty sell bootleg videos in order to fund the time machine. This plot point was removed at Universal's request, as they did not want to be seen as promoting movie piracy.
Executive producer Steven Spielberg initially had some reservations about hiring composer Alan Silvestri, having been unimpressed by his score for Romancing the Stone (1984). During a preview screening, in which the film was accompanied by a temporary track that only used part of Silvestri's score, Spielberg commented to Robert Zemeckis that a particularly grand cue was "the sort of music the film needed", unaware that it was indeed one of Silvestri's cues.
When Doc emerged from the DeLorean in a radiation suit, Marty asked him, "Is that a Devo suit?" Devo was an American post-punk musical group, whose mainstream success was mainly in the late 1970s and early 1980s. The radiation suit Doc was wearing was similar to the ones Devo was known for wearing in music videos and live performances.
When Marty is playing Johhny B. Goode, and Marvin calls his cousin, Chuck Berry, on the phone to tell him about the new sound he is looking for, this is all taking place on November 12, 1955. On that date in actuality, Berry was named most promising new R&B artists by Billboard.
The film went on to inspire the animated adult comedy Rick and Morty (2013) , which has gone on to be a equally popular franchise, and is the most viewed series on Adult Swim. The show focuses on a stuttering scientist named Rick and his young, often fearful, companion Morty, both complete spoofs of the original characters.
The Burger King, Toys R' Us, and Adult Theatre that can be seen in the beginning of the movie was confirmed not to be product placement. It was confirmed by Robert Zemeckis that all those places just happened to be there while they were filming.
The house used for Doc Brown's house is the Gamble House at 4 Westmoreland Avenue, Pasadena, California. It was the house of the Gamble family until 1966, when it was turned over to the University of Southern California. It is now a historical museum.
In the first scene at the diner, Marty asks for a Pepsi Free. This refers to a brand of Pepsi that was the company's first caffeine free cola. Ironically, in the same scene, Marty asks for a Tab, which was actually a diet cola brand produced by Pepsi's rival Coca-Cola. Regardless, both orders confused the man behind the counter.
When Marty tells Doc that Ronald Reagan is President in 1985, Doc scoffs by asking if Jane Wyman is the First Lady. Wyman had actually been married to Reagan from 1940 to 1948, though Reagan was already married to Nancy Reagan in 1955.
A very brief scene was cut in-between the scenes of the McFly family dinner and Marty being woken up by Doc's phone call. It involved Marty preparing to send his demo tape to a record company. Marty decides not to do it, and leaves the empty manila envelope on his desk. In a scene that remains in the film, he goes to breakfast with the manila envelope sealed, suggesting he decided to send it in.
According to the website of the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, President Ronald Reagan watched the film for the first time at Camp David on Friday, July 26, 1985 (three weeks after its release). Watching the film alongside the president was his wife, Nancy, and several aides including speechwriter Mark Weinberg. Although Reagan's fondness for the film is well-documented, Weinberg later recalled that the mention of Jane Wyman's name during one of the scenes made for a very awkward and uncomfortable moment in the room for the president and first lady. Apparently the subject of the president's first wife (from whom he had divorced in 1949) was such a sensitive one that White House staff members abided by an unofficial ban on ever speaking her name within earshot of any member of the First Family, according to Weinberg.
The set for Kingston Falls in Gremlins (1984) is the same one used for this movie. Both movies were filmed in the Universal Studios backlot. Additionally, Francis Lee McCain (who played Lorraine's mother Stella Baines) also played Billy's mother, Lynn Peltzer, in Gremlins (1984).
Robert Zemeckis dubbed the picture "the film that would not wrap". He recalled that because they shot night after night, he was always "half asleep" and the "fattest, most out-of-shape and sick I ever was".
In a 2018 interview, Lea Thompson said when she was a young actress starting out in Hollywood, a "very famous agent" assessed her options for her. "She told me, 'Here's your career, Lea: virgins, whores and mothers," Thompson recalled with a laugh. "And then I realized why Back to the Future is such a great part. Because I got to play a virgin, a whore and mother all in one movie."
The time machine has been through several variations. In the first draft of the screenplay the time machine was a laser device that was housed in a room. At the end of the first draft the device was attached to a refrigerator and taken to an atomic bomb test. Robert Zemeckis said in an interview that the idea was scrapped because he and Steven Spielberg did not want children to start climbing into refrigerators and getting trapped inside. (See also Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008).) The Nevada desert bomb test was left out in order to reduce the budget. In the third draft of the film the time machine was a DeLorean, but in order to send Marty back to the future the vehicle had to drive the DeLorean into an atomic bomb test.
Lea Thompson's character Lorraine is demonstrated to have an alcohol problem to varying degrees throughout the entire trilogy. Lea's name first appears in the film right at the same time as the "drinking man" clock in Doc's lab is shown.
Steven Spielberg gives a nod to Stanley Kubrick in the first few minutes of the film. When Marty is first over at Doc's house looking for him and doesn't find him, he hooks up his guitar to Doc's electrical equipment. The first dial he turns up is labeled CRM 114, which Kubrick used as a reference throughout many of his films.
When Marty is walking down the street to the Soda Fountain in 1955, the music score is the The Four Aces singing "Mr. Sandman". He passes a record shop with a poster in the window advertising The Chordettes' original version of the song.
The first episode of The Twilight Zone (1959), "Where is Everybody?", opens with a young man wandering a town square in confusion, asking himself if he is having a bad dream. This sequence not only greatly resembles Marty's arrival in the Hill Valley of 1955 in this movie, but was shot on the same Courthouse Square backlot at Universal Studios.
During filming, Crispin Glover would appear to be so nervous (because he was still starting out as an actor), that he would be speechless, but this improved his character of George McFly, since George is a nervous guy. Glover even had do voice over recordings for his character, because he was too nervous to speak.
Biff Tannen is named in homage to Ned Tanen, one-time head of Universal, who threw Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis' script for I Wanna Hold Your Hand (1978) on the floor in a heated meeting, accusing it of being anti-Semitic. This was despite the fact that Bob Gale is Jewish.
The "present day" date, on which the initial time travel occurs, is October 26, 1985. However, the film debuted before that date (the U.S. premiere was July 5, 1985). This means that, from the film's perspective, audiences who saw the film during its initial release in some markets (U.S., Australia, West Germany, and Italy) were actually seeing the "future", which is a nice coincidence, considering the film's subject.
In the Back to the Future trilogy, the "present" date* is October 26, 1985 (2015 is the future, 1885 and 1955 are the past). Exactly twenty-five years later on October 26, 2010, the Back to the Future trilogy was released on Blu-ray in a 25th Anniversary Edition. *Except for the last scene of part one, where Marty wakes up the next day to find everything has changed.
When 1955 Doc Brown sees the videotape of himself explaining the need for 1.21 "jigawatts" of power, he goes back to the house and is seen talking to a picture frame that he refers to as "Tom". When he returns the picture to the mantle we can see that is was Thomas A. Edison, with whom he was speaking. To Edison's left on the mantle are Sir Isaac Newton and Benjamin Franklin, to his right is Albert Einstein, Doc's inspiration for time machine invention.
The owner of the home where the tree from which George McFly (Crispin Glover) dangles is a small-time producer who does documentaries and biographies. Several years after this film was released, he put together a fifteen minute documentary on the tree on Bushnell Avenue that was used in the film, featuring never before seen footage.
As Marty is entering his high school in 1985, the building appears run down and has been covered with graffiti. One of the pieces of graffiti reads: "Lea loves Calvin". It serves as an Easter Egg of sorts, as it points to Lea Thompson's 1955 character falling head-over-heels for "Calvin Klein".
Crispin Glover based his performance as forty-seven-year-old George, in the early part of the film, on Jack Nance's portrayal of Henry Spencer in Eraserhead (1977). While filming George's writing scene in 1955, Crispin attempted to have the scene shot with his hair standing straight up, like that of Henry Spencer. When Robert Zemeckis rejected the idea, saying it would not match what was shot the previous day, Crispin allegedly replied, "Brando never matched."
After Einstein travels into the future, Doc compares his watch to Einstein's watch to show the difference. Physicist Albert Einstein described a stationary clock versus a moving one in order to illustrate Relativity (the latter clock moving more slowly).
There are several mentions to the Davy Crockett craze that took place throughout the mid 1950s. When Marty first walks through 1955 Hill Valley, he sees a sign advertising new Davy Crockett records. When he goes into Lou's diner, "The Ballad of Davy Crockett", sung by the title star Fess Parker, is heard on the jukebox. When Marty sits down to dinner with Lorraine's family, Lorraine's younger brother is wearing a coonskin cap.
On November 10, 2010, Bob Gale received a plaque from the principal of Whitter High School (Hill Valley High School) in dedication of the film. This plaque can be seen by the students of the school near the front end of the building, stating that this movie had been shot there.
On June 2, 2008, a massive fire broke out in the backlot destroying two archive video vaults and the New York City set used for Spider-Man 3 (2007), which is right across from the Hill Valley clock tower, which was minorly scorched by the time the fire was out.
In April 2020, Back to the Future screenwriter Bob Gale finally decided to explain the plot-hole question about why Marty's parents didn't remember him as the kid in high school who got them together. He told The Hollywood Reporter, "Bear in mind that George and Lorraine only knew Marty/Calvin for eight days when they were 17, and they did not even see him every one of those eight days. So, many years later, they still might remember that interesting kid who got them together on their first date." He continued, "But I would ask anyone to think back on their own high school days and ask themselves how well they remember a kid who might have been at their school for even a semester. Or someone you went out with just one time. If you had no photo reference, after 25 years, you'd probably have just a hazy recollection. So Lorraine and George might think it funny that they once actually met someone named Calvin Klein, and even if they thought their son at age 16 or 17 had some resemblance to him, it wouldn't be a big deal. I'd bet most of us could look thru our high school yearbooks and find photos of our teen-aged classmates that bear some resemblance to our children."
The DeLorean time machine is a licensed, registered vehicle in the state of California. While the vanity license plate used in the film says "OUTATIME", the DeLorean's actual license plate reads 3CZV657.
When the McFly family is sitting down for dinner before Marty travels back in time (early in the movie), Michael J. Fox is seen drinking a can of Pepsi. Fox was a major endorser of Pepsi in 1985, and some viewers criticized this scene as being a thinly-disguised commercial.
It always seemed strange that when Marty dressed in his "Darth Vadar" costume to scare George into going along with the plan, the cassette he used was labeled "Edward Van Helen" as opposed to the band's actual name, Van Halen. Turns out the band denied the filmmakers' request to use their music, but Eddie Van Halen agreed to perform a few licks on his own, something that went unknown until he admitted it years later.
According to Bob Gale, when the movie was shown recently on broadcast television, the lines about "Libyan terrorists" were altered for "political correctness". This is similar to the issues Gale and Robert Zemeckis had with a terrorist scene in Used Cars (1980).
Ralph Macchio was offered the role of Marty McFly, but he turned it down because he thought the movie was about "A kid, a car, and plutonium pills". Had he accepted, he would have been reunited with his girlfriend in Parts II and III since Elisabeth Shue played Jennifer Parker, Marty McFly's girlfriend, who also played Daniel's girlfriend in The Karate Kid (1984). Ralph's character played electric guitar in Crossroads (1986), and Marty McFly plays guitar in this movie.
The film was initially rejected by every other major studio. Most studios rejected the film because it wasn't raunchy enough, as the most successful teenage comedies at the time were of such nature. Disney rejected the film, as they felt the angle of a mother falling in love with her son was inappropriate for their films. In addition, studios were wary of Robert Zemeckis's work, as the films he had previously directed were largely flops. The unexpected success of Romancing the Stone (1984), which was directed by Zemeckis, boosted his profile, resulting in studios taking a second look at his movie proposals.
In 1955, Doc Brown scoffs at the notion of Ronald Reagan becoming the President, he says "I suppose Jack Benny is the Secretary of the Treasury!" This is a reference to Benny's stage and screen persona as a "tightwad" with money.
Melora Hardin was originally cast as Jennifer, but was let go after Eric Stoltz was dismissed, with the explanation that the actress was now too tall to be playing against Fox. Hardin was dismissed before she had a chance to shoot a single scene and was replaced with Claudia Wells.
The speedometer shown is not an original DeLorean speedometer. It has a top speed of ninety-five miles per hour. This allows the movie DeLorean to reach eighty-eight miles per hour, as judged by that speedometer, although that speedometer shown does not exist on a real DeLorean. The original DeLorean vehicle can reach eighty-eight miles per hour, but the speedometer tops out at eighty-five miles per hour, and the needle would be pegged at the limit of the speedometer giving no ability to judge the speed. This is because of a 1979 traffic safety law that insured all speedometers in cars released after September of that year to top out at eighty-five miles per hour, in an effort to encourage drivers to travel at "safer" speeds. The law was overturned less than two years later, but by that time, DeLorean had gone out of business. There is the possibility, however, that Doc modified the instrument panel of the DeLorean for this very reason.
Though the film Marty (1955) won the Academy Award for Best Picture in 1955, Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale say in the DVD Q&A session, that they were not aware of this fact when they named their main character Marty. Both films also have a diner owner named Lou.
In a bonus outtake scene, Marty impersonates a "cholo", or Latino gangster while watching his mom cheating on a test, many crew members can be heard laughing in the background. The scene can be found on the DVD bonus features.
J.J. Cohen originally considered for the role of Biff after Eric Stoltz was cast as Marty. He was replaced by Thomas F. Wilson because Cohen was considered not physically imposing enough next to the six-foot-tall Stoltz. Cohen was cast as one of Biff's gang. According to Bob Gale, had Michael J. Fox been cast from the beginning, Cohen would have probably won the part, because he was much taller than the five-foot-four Fox.
The comic book "Tales from Space" pays homage to EC Comics, a controversial and influential line of 1950s comics. If you look carefully at the cover of the comic, you can see the EC logo in the upper left. Although there was no "Tales from Space" by EC (Their science fiction titles were "Weird Science" and "Weird Fantasy"), there was a comic titled "Tales from the Crypt." Robert Zemeckis is a fan of the now defunct EC, and served as an Executive Producer, and directed some episodes of Tales from the Crypt (1989).
The school that served as Hill Valley High School was Whittier High School in Whittier, California, just outside of Los Angeles. Richard Nixon is an alumnus (class of 1930) and Pat Nixon taught there from 1937 to 1941. Also, just beyond the school is where Strickland's house is, as seen later in Back to the Future Part II (1989). The back side of the school can be seen as Marty jogs up to the porch.
In the scene where Doc is reviewing the video tape from 1985, Doc would have had to fashioned some sort of an adapter to hook into his television set, as videotape technology of any type was not developed until 1958.
It was included on the New York Times' Best 1000 Movies Ever Made in 2003, and Total Film's 100 Greatest Movies list in 2010. It was ranked #28 on Entertainment Weekly's 50 Best High School Movies in 2006, and #15 on Entertainment Weekly's 20 Best Summer Blockbusters Of All Time in 2014. In 2008, it was #23 on Empire Magazine's 500 Greatest Movies Of All Time, and in 2014, it was #17 on Empire Magazine's 301 Greatest Movies Of All Time. In that same year, it was ranked #2 on Rolling Stone's 25 Greatest 80's Movies.
In the early scenes "the Clock Tower" shows no damage to the concrete ledge below the clock. However the damage, caused by the Doc character, does exist when the Marty character returns to 1985. A Bell Jet Ranger helicopter flies overhead & directs a light to accentuate & clearly show the damage. The change clearly delineates that Marty returned to an alternate time line.
Several Pepsi references are visible through time in the movie: During the opening sequence, when all clocks ring at 8:00 a.m. (twenty-five minutes slow) there's a Pepsi board visible in the upper right corner of the frame. 1985: A Pepsi Cola can is visible when Marty's band is playing in front of the jury at Hill Valley High School. 1985: Diet Pepsi can when Marty and his father are talking about the wrecked car. 1985: Diet Pepsi can next to Marty when he sleeps, before Doc calls. Clock shows 12:28 a.m. 1955: When Marty enters Lou's Cafe, Pepsi thermometer on the upper right of the wall. 1955: When George meets Marty at the Texaco gas station, a Pepsi machine is visible. Marty takes a can out and drinks it. 1955: When Marvin Berry & The Starlighters are playing at the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance, a Pepsi-Cola suitcase is standing under the amp. 1955: Pepsi bottle in Marvin Berry & The Starlighters' car, when the brats put Marty in the trunk.
Marty's guitars used throughout the movie: Erlewine Chiquita ("big amp" sequence); Ibanez black Roadstar II (scenes of Marty's band performing in the 80s); and a Gibson 1963 ES-345TD (Marty performing at the dance).
There are two scenes in the 1985 parking lot chase scene where the miles on the odometers don't match. On the DVD commentary, director Robert Zemeckis says this is due to multiple DeLoreans being used in the shoot.
Both Crispin Glover and Eric Stoltz were hotheaded character actors who were associated with the franchise; who clashed with Bob Zemeckis and then ended up disconnecting with the franchise for these personal reasons.
In the beginning sequence, when panning through all the clocks at Doc's house, there is one which has a man hanging off the hands of the clock. This is from a scene in Harold Lloyd's film, Safety Last! (1923).
This movie romanticized The DeLorean DMC-12, which is regarded as one of the worst cars of all time. The cast and crew reported on the DVD commentary that the cars often broke down causing minor delays in production.
In various interviews, Lea Thompson (Lorraine McFly) has said on screen husband Crispin Glover (George Mcfly) was the most brilliant comedic actor in the whole franchise. And although Glover and the production parted ways; and he ended up suing Zemeckis and company for using his likeness in Part 2 without his permission; Thompson says in spite of the all of the production team including Zemeckis secretly agree with her; that Glover is the #1 comic genius behind the whole series.
When Marty first arrives in the past, the song "Mr. Sandman" by The Four Aces plays. It is a remake of a song by the same name by The Chordettes. When the camera is showing the record store, a record of The Chordettes can be seen in the window.
From November 5, 2010 to November 12, 2010, week-long events were planned to celebrate the twenty-fifth anniversary that was for the fans, and by the fans. The web page that hosted this was weregoingback.com. Since the ending of the events, the web page was devoted to the pictures and videos taken during the course of that week.
Alan Silvestri composed a short jingle for the Back to the Future logo at the opening credits, but it was scrapped eventually. Thus, Silvestri's first composition does not appear until eighteen minutes into the movie. In 2009, the entire orchestral score including the jingle was released for the first time on CD by the Intrada record label.
While the McFlys were at the dinner table in 1985, George McFly was watching The Honeymooners (1955) episode where Ralph Kramden was dressed up as a man from space. While the Baines family was sitting down for dinner in 1955 with Marty, the family was watching the same episode.
When a policeman asks Doc for a permit for the weather experiment, he (Doc) can be seen opening his wallet in the background while Marty is sneaking his warning note about the future. This could suggest that Doc is bribing the policeman.
The DeLorean used in the trilogy was a 1981 DMC-12 model, with a six-cylinder PRV (Peugeot, Renault, Volvo) engine. The base for the nuclear-reactor was made from the hubcap from a Dodge Polaris. In the 2002 Special Edition DVD of the Back to the Future trilogy, it is incorrectly stated that the DeLorean had a standard four-cylinder engine.
In the beginning, Doc meets Marty at Twin Pines Mall, in the closing scene Marty goes to save Doc at the Lone Pines Mall, same spot, only now named for the single tree after Marty runs over the 2nd tree when he arrives in 1955 on Peabody's farm
October 21, 2015 was celebrated as "Back to the Future Day" on UK television. All three films were shown, along with a mockumentary and time travel suggestions tweeted by viewers. For this movie, the censors usually changed Doc Brown's line "When this baby reaches eighty-eight miles per hour, you're gonna see some serious shit" to "serious stuff." On this screening, the censors cut the whole line.
While it was planned to use the date, November 5 in the film, which happens to be Bob Gale's father's birthday, as well as Mary Steenburgen's, interestingly enough, based on accurate calendars, November 12, 1955 occurred on Saturday.
There is an adult movie theatre behind Marty McFly showing Orgy American Style (1973) in the "Save the Clock Tower" scene. It's one of the things he looks at when he gets back from the past, along with Red the Bum (George "Buck" Flower) on a bench, before saying "Everything looks great!"
In the scene where Marty tells little baby Joey in his crib that he'd better get used to the (prison) bars, Joey is dressed in a striped outfit resembling the traditional black and white striped prison outfits of the past.
When the DeLorean leaves 1955, and fire tracks are visible on the tar road in Hill Valley, the movie showing at the theater is The Atomic Kid (1954). When he arrives in the alternative 1985, the cinema changed into an Assembly of Christ church.
The song "Earth Angel" by The Penguins is played during the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance on November 12, 1955. It was also played during the Smallville High School reunion dance in Superman III (1983). Marc McClure (Dave McFly) also appeared in that film, in which he played Jimmy Olsen.
In reality, the episode of The Honeymooners (1955) Marty watches at the Baines' house did not air the night of his unexpected visit on November 5, 1955. The proper episode should have been The Honeymooners: The Sleepwalker (1955) but instead it was The Honeymooners: The Man from Space (1955), which originally aired later, on New Year's Eve 1955.
The number of people shown in the movie poster/DVD cover matches which film of the trilogy it is: This one shows Marty alone, Part II shows Marty & Doc (two people), and Part III shows three people; Marty, Doc, and Clara.
The diner where Marty first meets his father and calls Doc Brown in this movie was filmed on the backlot of Universal Studios, and is the same diner interior in which Johnny Hooker (Robert Redford) meets Doyle Lonnegan (Robert Shaw) in The Sting (1973).
In the early discussions of the DVD release format in 1997, when the format was first introduced, the Back To The Future trilogy made the "short list" of films to clean up for a proper DVD release. Unfortunately, it would take five years until the first editions were released to the public. The official release for DVD was December 17, 2002, and it would take seven more years until the fans could purchase each of the three films individually on February 10, 2009. There's also a widescreen edition released for the trilogy individually that had exclusive jacket slips that have been long out of print. This version of the widescreen release was the incorrect version.
The name "Hill Valley" is a joke, being an oxymoron. However, an early script for Back to the Future Part II (1989) mentioned that Hill Valley was named after its founder, William "Bill" Hill. There is an act at the Golden Horseshoe Revue in Disneyland's Fronterland called "Billy Hill & The Hillbillies". They have even released an album called "The Billys".
In the movie's two time periods, the Mayors running for re-election are "Red" Thomas (in 1955) and "Goldie" Wilson (in 1985); and both have nicknames based on Hill Valley's school colors. Interestingly, their surnames form the name of Thomas F. Wilson who plays Biff Tannen.
The filming of the fictitious Hill Valley High School occurred at Whittier High School, alumni of which include President Richard Nixon and former Pixar executive John Lasseter. As a child, Nixon's classmates elected him the president of their eighth grade class at East Whittier Elementary School. In a scene inside the fictitious high school, one can see in the background a campaign poster for Ron Woodward for Class President. Washington Post reporter Bob Woodward's investigative reporting eventually led to Nixon's resignation as President of the United States. Also, in the credits a set grip is identified as Ronald Woodward.
Among the many clocks shown at the beginning, one in gray tones shows a man hanging off the clock's hands. This is a direct reference to Harold Lloyd's Safety Last! (1923) which inspired the climatic scene with Doc hanging from a building's clock.
In observance of the 30th anniversary of the original film a Deloran user group held a raffle for a restored Delorean. The raffle fee was $50. Many people were skeptical of the online purchase and avoided it. As a result, there were only some 850 entries. As a result, the group only received about $42,500, which barely paid for the cost of the car and renovation.
In early 2020 Bob Gale posted a comment on a reddit board about why Marty's parents didn't recognize him when he came back to the future. He said that they had only spent a week with him and that it wasn't even all of a week and that they probably would not have remembered what he looked like 20 odd some years later.
A cartoon show called Mr. Peabody and Sherman is about a time-travelling duo, where Mr. Peabody is a dog. Einstein the dog in this movie, is the first time traveller. There's also a character named Mr. Peabody, who has a son named "Sherman", when Marty first enters 1955.
This is one of those movies that gets sandwiched in with the golden age of Steven Spielberg's career, even though he didn't write the script, or direct it, but rather helped Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale promote it, and served as executive producer.
As being a starring cast in the film, Christopher Lloyd was truly born in 1938, having made him the same age the year this film was made that Marty's parents' were as fictional people in this same year it starts off and ends in, because in the story Marty's parents were born in 1938.
When Marty shows 1955 Doc the picture in his wallet, he references what his sister is wearing, saying "Look at her sweatshirt, Doc. Class of 1984!" The film in which Michael J. Fox appeared before his roles in this film and Family Ties (1982) was Class of 1984 (1982).
At 1:46:40, just before Marty wakes up after having returned from 1955, the journal in his headboard bookshelf (the yellow one with the large RQ logo) is Research Quarterly vol. 22, no. 4, published Summer 1983. The just-barely-visible blue one underneath is a winter issue, as winter issues of this journal published around the time of the film had blue covers. Fall issues typically had red covers.
The sound effects for the clock tower's bell is actually a recording of Big Ben, which has traditionally been the "ultimate classic" bell-sound used in old-time radio-shows --- especially for intense/dramatic scenes --- to represent a city-clock tolling the hour.
[35:10]When Marty first arrives in 1955, before he enters town, the billboard advertising Lyon Estates shows an image of a model home. While the house is shown in a pale turquoise paint, it is the same style of house as Marty's house, which is painted brick red.
When [George] falls out of the tree, Mr. Baines (Lorraine's dad) yells, "Stella, another one of these kids jumped in front of my car!". Presumably, George was not the first to peep on Lorraine from that same tree.
Both Back to the Future (1985) and the TV show Highway to Heaven (1984) were filmed in Pasadena during the same period. In the Highway to Heaven episode entitled "Friends", a student is holding the same book with the Hill Valley "bulldog" logo that was used in Back to the Future. George McFly is holding this book in his hands in the high school scene when he is being made fun of by his class mates.
Both Back to the Future (1985) and Witness (1985) were honored by the Writers Guild of America (WGA) in 2006 as one of the "101 Greatest Screenplays of All Time", #56 and #80 respectively. Despite being ranked higher on the list, 'Back to the Future' still lost Best Original Screenplay to 'Witness' at both the Writers Guild of America Awards and the Academy Awards in 1986.
First of three movies in which Michael J. Fox's character hits a fence with the car he is driving. In this one Marty hits old man Peabody's fence around his "twin pines". (2) In Doc Hollywood (1991), Ben Stone hits the judge's fence after running off the road. (3) In The Frighteners (1996), Frank Bannister hits Dr. Lynskey's fence after running off the wet road.
Huey Lewis: When Marty is being judged at the band auditions at the beginning, the judge who stands up to say he is "just too darn loud" is Huey Lewis, whose songs, "The Power of Love" and "Back in Time" are featured on the movie's soundtrack, and also wrote Marty's audition song (which is a re-orchestrated version of "The Power of Love.")
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
The mall where Marty McFly meets Doc Brown for their time travel experiment is called "Twin Pines Mall." Doc Brown comments that old farmer Peabody used to own all of the land, and he grew pines there. When Marty goes back in time, he runs over and knocks down a pine tree on the Peabody's property. When he comes back to the mall at the end of the film, the sign at the mall identifies the mall as "Lone Pine Mall".
"To be continued" was inserted into the end of the VHS release Back to the Future (1985), and was omitted from the 2002 DVD release. The cliffhanger ending of the film was not originally intended to set up a sequel, but rather just as one last joke. It was admitted by the writer that had they originally intended the following two sequels, the ending would not have had Jennifer get into the car with Doc and Marty. This is why Jennifer was almost immediately knocked unconscious at the beginning of Back to the Future Part II (1989).
The only scene which appears in all three Back to the Future films is that of Doc sliding down from the clock tower on a cable before the clock is struck by lightning. Stuntman Bob Yerkes, who doubled for Christopher Lloyd during this scene, got extra payment for parts II and III without having to do any work.
In the original script, Marty's playing rock and roll at the dance caused a riot, which had to be broken up by police. This, combined with Marty accidentally tipping Doc off to the "secret ingredient" that made the time machine work (Coca-Cola) caused history to change. When Marty got back to the 1980s, he found that it was now the 1950s conception of that decade, with air-cars and what-not (all invented by Doc Brown, and running on Coca-Cola). Marty also discovers that rock and roll was never invented, and he dedicates himself to starting the delayed cultural revolution. Meanwhile, his dad digs out the newspaper from the day after the dance, and sees his son in the picture of the riot.
Bob Gale confirmed that for wide shots, the wind during the storm at the Clock Tower was created by using a McBride, which was described by the writer as "basically an airplane engine on a huge cherry picker", and was placed a good fifty feet away from the actors. The McBride was so loud, that all of the dialogue said by Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd had to be re-recorded later. However, the McBride also had an effect on Fox's health: while filming the sequence where Marty yells up at Doc at the Clock Tower to tell him about the future, he coughed up blood after filming those scenes.
The dialogue where Lorraine says that when she grows up, she'll let her kids do anything they want was cut. That dialogue is re-inserted in Back to the Future Part II (1989) when the second Marty creeps past the car the first Marty and 1955 Lorraine are in. Lorraine states she'll let her kids do anything, Marty replies, "I'd like to have that in writing."
In the shot of the clock tower of 1985, after Doc Brown sent Marty into the future (with a flying-by helicopter), you can clearly see that the piece of the ledge under the clock dial is broken off. It was broken off by Doc Brown in 1955.
In the opening scene of the movie, as the camera pans across the clocks, a picture of a clock has a small figure of Harold Lloyd hanging from the minute hand, a reference to Safety Last! (1923), and a foreshadowing of the story's climax, where Doc Brown (Christopher Lloyd) clings to the face of the clock tower while trying to reconnect the cable.
The "Mr. Fusion" energy converter at the end of the film originally had the Westinghouse logo on it. However, the company would not allow the logo to be used, so art director Todd Hallowell added some additional lines to the symbol to differentiate it.
According to Back to the Future Part III (1990), the clock in the clock tower started running at 8:00 p.m. on September 5, 1885. The date is provided by the caption on the photograph that Doc Brown gives Marty at the end of Back to the Future Part III. The time is provided by the Mayor in 1885 in Back to the Future Part III, who starts it. The lightning strikes the clock tower at 10:04 p.m. on November 12, 1955. This means that the clock tower operated for exactly seventy years, two months, seven days, two hours, and four minutes.
In the opening sequence with all Doc's clocks ticking away, one of the clocks features what looks like a newspaper cutout of Doc that is attached to the big hand of the clock resembling the scene just before the clock tower being hit by lightning in 1955.
When Marty gets into the DeLorean to travel from 1955 back to 1985, he says that he will give himself ten minutes to warn Doc about getting shot. But when he puts the new time into the time control panel, the time switches from 1:35 a.m. to 1:24 a.m., eleven minutes. However, Doc was shot at 1.34 a.m., so the time Marty gives himself is accurate.