back to top

19 Surprising Facts You Might Not Know About "Back To The Future"

Great Scott! This classic could've featured a chimp, a suicidal teen, and a time-traveling refrigerator.

Posted on

1. The script was rejected over 40 times and by every studio.

In the early '80s, following the success of Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Porky's, most studios were looking for raunchier teen comedies, while Disney thought the storyline of a mother falling in love with her son was too inappropriate.
Via news.com.au

In the early '80s, following the success of Fast Times at Ridgemont High and Porky's, most studios were looking for raunchier teen comedies, while Disney thought the storyline of a mother falling in love with her son was too inappropriate.

2. Bob Gale, who co-wrote the script, was inspired to write the story after seeing his father's high school yearbook while visiting him.

According to Gale — who also went to the same high school as his father — the yearbook made him think about whether or not they would've been friends had they gone to high school together.
Universal Pictures / Via backtothefuture.wikia.com

According to Gale — who also went to the same high school as his father — the yearbook made him think about whether or not they would've been friends had they gone to high school together.

3. In the original script the time machine was NOT the iconic DeLorean, but rather a refrigerator.

Universal Pictures

The idea to use a refrigerator was changed after the film's director Robert Zemeckis and producer Steven Spielberg thought kids might copy the idea and crawl inside fridges.

4. In the refrigerator version of the script, Marty McFly, in a rather dark turn, accidentally time-travels while attempting suicide.

Universal Pictures

In that script, Marty was so upset about how things were going in his life that he attempts suicide by climbing into the time machine, thinking it would electrocute him to death. According to Gale, they realized that they couldn't have a main character who tried to kill himself.

Advertisement

5. The producers decided to use a DeLorean as the time machine in order to keep the joke in the film that it was a UFO.

Universal Pictures

6. Production designers chose 88 m.p.h. as the speed to achieve time travel because they thought it looked good on the digital speedometer.

Also the number was easy to remember.
Universal Pictures

Also the number was easy to remember.

7. The lighting hitting the clocktower storyline/scene was added in order to save money.

Universal Pictures

Originally Marty was supposed to travel back to 1985 by driving into a nuclear test site in Nevada and harnessing the power of a nuclear explosion during a bomb test.

The idea was dropped after the producers realized that just that scene alone would cost over a million dollars to film.

8. Sid Sheinberg, then-head of Universal Pictures, suggested that they change the name of the movie to Spaceman From Pluto, because he believed a movie with the word "future" in the title would not do well.

http://imgur.com/a/snuGs#0

Even though Sheinberg was serious the title change — which referenced the barnyard scene in the film where Mr. Peabody mistakes the DeLorean for a UFO — Spielberg played it off as a joke in order to keep the title.

Advertisement

9. Doc Brown was supposed to have a pet chimpanzee named Shemp, instead of his dog Einstein.

This was a suggestion that Sheinberg made that actually worked out for the better. According to Gale, Sheinberg told them, "Movies with chimps never made money."
Universal Pictures

This was a suggestion that Sheinberg made that actually worked out for the better. According to Gale, Sheinberg told them, "Movies with chimps never made money."

10. The set used for Hill Valley had previously appeared in two other iconic movies: To Kill a Mockingbird and Gremlins.

Universal Pictures
Warner Bros.

11. When Christopher Lloyd was told that Eric Stolz — who was infamously cast as Marty — was let go, he reportedly had no idea who they were talking about; he had been calling him Marty the entire time and thought that was his name.

The decision to recast Marty with Michael J. Fox (who was the original choice), after five weeks of filming, added another $3 million to the movie's budget.
Universal Pictures

The decision to recast Marty with Michael J. Fox (who was the original choice), after five weeks of filming, added another $3 million to the movie's budget.

12. Lea Thompson was upset about the recasting because at the time Michael J. Fox was mainly a sitcom actor.

Universal Pictures

Thompson came around quickly to Fox though.

Advertisement

13. In order to accommodate Fox's obligations on his TV show, Family Ties, most of the movie was shot at night.

Universal Pictures

Fox would shoot the show from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. and then head to Universal to shoot the movie from 6 p.m. to 2 a.m. All the daytime exterior scenes were shot on the weekends.

14. Fox was so sleep deprived that he had a freakout during the taping of an episode of Family Ties — he went backstage looking for a video camera prop, thinking he was filming Back to the Future.

Source: Back to the Future: 25th Anniversary Trilogy DVD commentary
NBC

Source: Back to the Future: 25th Anniversary Trilogy DVD commentary

15. According to Fox, he really hated filming in the DeLorean due to the fact that the time-circuits box was sharp and would cut up his hand whenever he would change gears.

Universal Pictures

16. There is an actual backstory on how Marty and Doc became friends. When Marty was about 13 or 14 he snuck into Doc's laboratory, and when Doc discovered him he offered him a part-time job.

Gale told Mental Floss in 2011, "He [Doc] was delighted to find that Marty thought he was cool and accepted him for what he was. Both of them were the black sheep in their respective environments. Doc gave Marty a part-time job to help with experiments, tend to the lab, tend to the dog, etc."
Universal Pictures

Gale told Mental Floss in 2011, "He [Doc] was delighted to find that Marty thought he was cool and accepted him for what he was. Both of them were the black sheep in their respective environments. Doc gave Marty a part-time job to help with experiments, tend to the lab, tend to the dog, etc."

Advertisement

17. Crispin Glover hated the ending of the movie. He thought it sent the message that the McFlys were happy only because they had money.

Universal Pictures

18. Gale and Zemeckis never intended for there to be a sequel(s) to the movie — the open-ended ending with the flying DeLorean was meant to be more of a joke.

Universal Pictures

According to Zemeckis, after the huge success of the film — it was the biggest movie of 1985 — Universal told him they would make the second movie with or without him. So he agreed to make the sequels.

19. Zemeckis said there will NEVER be a remake or reboot of the movie in his lifetime.

Universal Pictures

Gale and Zemeckis, per their contracts, have final say on any future Back to the Future film projects (sequels or remakes) for the rest of their lives. Zemeckis told U.K.'s The Telegraph that even after his death he hopes his estate will find a way to block any remakes. Adding, “I mean, to me, that’s outrageous. Especially since it’s a good movie. It’s like saying, ‘Let’s remake Citizen Kane. Who are we going to get to play Kane?’ What folly, what insanity is that? Why would anyone do that?”