Back to the Future (franchise)

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Back to the Future
Back to the Future film series logo.png
Official logo
Directed by Robert Zemeckis
Produced by Bob Gale
Neil Canton
Written by Robert Zemeckis
Bob Gale
Starring Michael J. Fox
Christopher Lloyd
Thomas F. Wilson
Lea Thompson
Music by Alan Silvestri
Cinematography Dean Cundey
Edited by Harry Keramidas
Arthur Schmidt
Production
company
Distributed by Universal Pictures
Release dates 1985–1990
Running time 337 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $99,000,000
Box office $957,587,347

The Back to the Future franchise is an American comic science-fiction adventure film series written and directed by Robert Zemeckis, produced by Bob Gale and Neil Canton for Amblin Entertainment, and distributed by Universal Pictures. The main plot follow the adventures of a high school student, Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox), and an eccentric scientist, Dr. Emmett L. Brown (Christopher Lloyd), as they use a DeLorean time machine to time travel to different periods in the history of Hill Valley, California.

The first film was the highest-grossing film of 1985 and became an international phenomenon, leading to the second and third films, which were back-to-back film productions, released in 1989 and 1990, respectively. Though the sequels did not perform quite as well at the box office as the first film, the trilogy remains immensely popular after a quarter-century and has yielded such spinoffs as an animated television series and a motion-simulation ride at the Universal Studios Theme Parks in Universal City, California; Orlando, Florida (now closed); and Osaka, Japan, as well as a Microsoft Windows, Macintosh, iPad, PS3, and Wii video game. The film's visual effects were done by Industrial Light and Magic. The trilogy was nominated for five Academy Awards all together, winning one (Best Sound Editing).

Films[edit]

Back to the Future (1985)[edit]

Main article: Back to the Future

Seventeen-year-old Marty McFly is accidentally sent back in time from 1985 to 1955 in a time machine built from a DeLorean by eccentric scientist Emmett "Doc" Brown, when Marty is attacked by Libyans from whom Doc stole the plutonium that gives the flux capacitor the 1.21 gigawatts it needs to time-travel. Soon after his arrival in 1955, Marty's mother Lorraine falls in love with him, rather than with his father George McFly, threatening to cause a paradox that would result in Marty's nonexistence. Without plutonium to power the time machine, Marty must find the 1955 Doc Brown to help him reunite his parents and return to 1985.

The efforts of Biff Tannen, George's bully and supervisor, further complicate Marty's situation until Marty successfully causes his parents to fall in love and simultaneously convinces George to finally stand up to Biff. Returning to the future via a lightning strike that jump-starts the machine, Marty discovers a vastly improved situation for the McFly family, as Biff is now an auto detailer rather than George's supervisor. Despite 1955 Doc's insistence on not knowing details of the future, a note Marty leaves in his pocket saves him from being killed by the terrorists. But in the film's final moments, Doc Brown appears in a modified version of the DeLorean and tells Marty and his girlfriend Jennifer Parker that they must travel to the future to fix a problem caused by Marty and Jennifer's kids.

Back to the Future Part II (1989)[edit]

The series continues as Doc Brown travels with Marty and Jennifer to the year 2015 where he has discovered Marty's family is in ruins. Marty buys a sports almanac containing the outcomes of 50 years (1950–2000) worth of sporting events. However, Doc catches him and throws the almanac in the trash, where the 2015 Biff Tannen finds it. While Marty and Doc are at Marty's 2015 house, 2015 Biff steals the DeLorean time machine and gives the book to his 1955 self just before he goes to the dance at the end of the first movie. When Doc and Marty return to 1985, they find that Biff has used the sports almanac's knowledge for financial gain, which allows him to turn Courthouse Square into a 27-story casino, take over Hill Valley, get away with the murder of Marty's father, and later marry Marty's mother. Marty learns that Biff was given the book by 2015 Biff on November 12, 1955, so he and Doc go back to that date in order to steal the almanac from Biff before he can use it to destroy their lives. They accomplish this in a complex fashion, often crossing their own past-selves' paths. When the duo are about to travel back to 1985, a lightning bolt strikes the DeLorean and activates the time circuits, sending Doc back to 1885 and leaving Marty stranded once again in 1955.

Back to the Future Part III (1990)[edit]

After finding out that Doc Brown is trapped in 1885, Marty sets out to find the 1955 Doc to help him fix the DeLorean (which has been waiting for him in a mineshaft for 70 years) and restore it to working order. Learning that Doc gets shot in 1885 by Biff's great-grandfather, Buford "Mad Dog" Tannen, Marty travels back in time to save Doc (who has become a blacksmith) and bring him back to the future. Arriving in the middle of a melee between the United States Cavalry and American Indians, an Indian arrow rips a hole in the Delorean's fuel line, emptying the gas tank and rendering the engine useless. Inadvertently due to Marty's arrival in 1885, Doc falls in love with schoolteacher Clara Clayton, and considers staying in the past. Marty must convince Doc to come back with him and find a way to get back to his time before it's too late. After several dramatic action scenes involving using a speeding locomotive to push the Delorean to 88 miles per hour (142 km/h), Marty returns to 1985 without Doc Brown, who stayed behind with Clara in 1885. When the Delorean appears in 1985 on the same train track as planned, a modern train destroys the Delorean, with Marty jumping out just in time. Marty reveals to Jennifer the time travel adventure and they visit the scene of the wreckage of the Delorean. He worries that Doc has been lost in the past forever, when suddenly Doc Brown appears in a new time machine, modeled after a locomotive. He introduces Jennifer and Marty to Clara (to whom he is now married) and his two sons, Jules and Verne. When Marty asks if Doc and his family are going to the future, Doc replies that he's "already been there." Doc's last words of wisdom is that nobody knows their future, so they "must make it a good one." The locomotive flies across the sky and disappears, ending the trilogy.

Cast and crew[edit]

Characters and portrayers[edit]

Character Feature film Animated TV series Video game
Back to the Future Back to the Future Part II Back to the Future Part III Back to the Future Back to the Future: The Game - Episode 1: It's About Time Back to the Future: The Game - Episode 2: Get Tannen! Back to the Future: The Game - Episode 3: Citizen Brown Back to the Future: The Game - Episode 4: Double Visions Back to the Future: The Game - Episode 5: OUTATIME
Martin Seamus "Marty" McFly Michael J. Fox David Kaufman A.J. LoCascio A.J. LoCascio
Michael J. Fox (future Martys)
Dr. Emmett Lathrop "Doc" Brown Christopher Lloyd Dan Castellaneta (voice)
Christopher Lloyd (live-action segments)
Christopher Lloyd
James Arnold Taylor (young Emmett)
Christopher Lloyd (First Citizen Brown) Christopher Lloyd (First Citizen Brown)
James Arnold Taylor (young Emmett)
Christopher Lloyd
James Arnold Taylor (young Emmett)
Biff Tannen Thomas F. Wilson Kid Beyond
Irving "Kid" Tannen Owen Thomas Owen Thomas
Lorraine Baines-McFly Lea Thompson Aimee Miles
George Douglas McFly Crispin Glover Jeffrey Weissman
Crispin Glover (archive footage)
Jeffrey Weissman Michael Sommers
Jennifer Parker Claudia Wells Elisabeth Shue Cathy Cavadini Claudia Wells
Dave McFly Marc McClure (Shown in deleted scene) Marc McClure (Mentioned only)
Linda McFly Wendie Jo Sperber (Mentioned only) Wendie Jo Sperber (Mentioned only)
Gerald Strickland James Tolkan (photograph) (photograph) (Mentioned only)
Einstein Tiger Freddie Danny Mann (Mentioned only)
Copernicus Foster
3-D Casey Siemaszko
Match Billy Zane
Skinhead J.J. Cohen
Douglas J. Needles Flea (Mentioned only)
Marty McFly, Jr. Michael J. Fox (Mentioned only)
Marlene McFly Michael J. Fox
Griff Thomas F. Wilson Thomas F. Wilson (Mentioned only)
Seamus McFly Michael J. Fox (Mentioned only)
Maggie McFly Lea Thompson
William McFly Michael J. Fox (photograph)
Unnamed child (infant William)
Michael J. Fox
Clara Clayton Mary Steenburgen (Mentioned only) (Mentioned only)
Jules Eratosthenes Brown Todd Cameron Brown Joshua Keaton (Mentioned only) (Mentioned only)
Verne Newton Brown Dannel Evans Troy Davidson (Mentioned only) (Mentioned only)
Buford "Mad Dog" Tannen Thomas F. Wilson (photograph) Thomas F. Wilson (Mentioned only)
Beauregard Tannen Thomas F. Wilson Owen Thomas
Chief Marshal James Strickland James Tolkan (photograph) (Mentioned only) (photograph)

Marty McFly and Doc Brown were included in Empire's 100 Greatest Movie Characters of All Time, ranking No. 39 and No. 76 respectively.[1][2]

Crew[edit]

Film Year Director Writers Producers Executive producers Associate producer Cinematographer Editors Composer Casting directors Production designers Art directors Set decorators Costume designers
Back to the Future 1985 Robert Zemeckis Robert Zemeckis
Bob Gale
Neil Canton
Bob Gale
Steven Spielberg
Kathleen Kennedy
Frank Marshall
N/A Dean Cundey Harry Keramidas
Arthur Schmidt
Alan Silvestri Jane Feinberg
Mike Fenton
Judy Taylor
Lawrence G. Paull Todd Hallowell Hal Gausman Deborah L. Scott
Back to the Future Part II 1989 Story:
Robert Zemeckis
Bob Gale
Screenplay:
Bob Gale
Steve Starkey Mike Fenton
Valorie Massalas
Judy Taylor
Rick Carter Margie Stone McShirley Linda De Scenna Joanna Johnston
Back to the Future Part III 1990 Margie Stone McShirley
Jim Teegarden
Michael Taylor

Reception[edit]

Box office performance[edit]

Film Release date Box office revenue Budget Reference
United States & Canada Foreign Worldwide
Back to the Future July 3, 1985 $210,609,762 $170,500,000 $381,109,762 $19,000,000 [3]
Back to the Future Part II November 22, 1989 $118,450,002 $213,500,000 $331,950,002 $40,000,000 [4][5]
Back to the Future Part III May 25, 1990 $87,727,583 $156,800,000 $244,527,583 $40,000,000 [6]
Total $416,787,347 $540,800,000 $957,587,347 $99,000,000
List indicator(s)
  • (A) indicates the adjusted totals based on current ticket prices (by Box Office Mojo).

As of June 2011, the Back to the Future series is the 14th-highest-grossing trilogy of all time at the domestic market (adjusted for inflation),[7] 17th-highest-grossing trilogy of all time at the domestic market (not adjusted for inflation),[8] and the 13th-highest-grossing trilogy of all time, worldwide (not adjusted for inflation).[9]

Soundtrack albums[edit]

In 1985, MCA Records released the Back to the Future soundtrack. It featured 8 tracks performed by Huey Lewis and the News, Lindsey Buckingham, Eric Clapton, Marvin Berry and the Starlighters, and Etta James. Only two tracks were culled from Alan Silvestri's orchestral score.

In 1989, MCA Records released Back to the Future Part II soundtrack with 13 tracks.

In 1990, Varèse Sarabande released Back to the Future Part III soundtrack with 18 tracks.

In 1999, Varèse Sarabande released Back to the Future trilogy soundtrack with eight tracks from the first film, seven from the second, four from the third, and one from the ride.

In 2009, Intrada released a two-CD Back to the Future set as Intrada Special Collection Volume 116. It features the complete original motion picture soundtrack (that is, Alan Silvestri's entire orchestral score) from Back to the Future (Part I) with 24 tracks, 15 tracks of alternate early sessions and one unused source cue from the scoring sessions.

Video releases[edit]

DVD release[edit]

In July 1997, Universal Studios announced that Back to the Future would be one of their first 10 releases to the new format, though it ended up being delayed for five years. It was finally released in 2002 in widescreen. In the USA, a fullscreen version was also released.

Second DVD release[edit]

On October 21, 2008, BTTF.com broke the story that Universal will be releasing each of the "Back to the Future" films individually. The DVDs were released on February 10, 2009. "Back to the Future" became a 2-disc set featuring the documentary "Looking Back to the Future" and "Back to the Future: The Ride."[10]

Blu-ray release: "25th Anniversary Trilogy"[edit]

In June 2008, a special screening of the trilogy was held in Celebration, Florida. Bob Gale told the crowd they were seeing the digitally remastered version that was going to be used for the Blu-ray version of the movies. Gale also spoke to potential supplemental features on a Blu-ray version of the trilogy, saying only that never-before-seen bonus materials may appear, though he stopped short of offering any specifics.[11] On June 28, 2010, Universal announced that the Blu-ray edition of the films would be released on October 26, 2010, twenty-five years to the day from the date of the fictional events from the first film.[12] There have been numerous complaints about the R1 packaging,[13] leading to the release of an instruction sheet on how to safely remove and insert discs.[14]

Release formats and features[edit]

Box Audio Scene Specific Commentary Framing Enhanced MJ Fox interview
1986 (Part I) CED Tan with Marty and DeLorean Stereo No  ? No
1986 (Part I) VHS Blue with Marty and DeLorean Stereo No Correct Widescreen No
1993 Japanese Laserdisc Charcoal with logo Stereo No Generous No
VCD Blue with Marty and DeLorean Stereo No Correct Widescreen No
2002 R1 DVD Blue with Marty and Doc with DeLorean Dolby 5.1 Yes Incorrect Widescreen Yes
2002 R2/R4 UK DVD Black with DeLorean Dolby 5.1 and DTS No Incorrect Widescreen No
2003 "V2" (Part II & Part III) DVD No box Dolby 5.1 Yes Corrected Widescreen Yes
2005 R1 DVD Blue with Marty and Doc Dolby 5.1 Yes Corrected Widescreen Yes
2005 R2/R4 UK DVD Blue with DeLorean Dolby 5.1 and DTS Yes Corrected Widescreen Yes
2006 R2 UK DVD Blue with DeLorean Dolby 5.1 and DTS Yes Corrected Widescreen Yes
2008 R2 UK DVD Black Steelbook Case with DeLorean Dolby 5.1 and DTS Yes Corrected Widescreen Yes
2009 R1 Individual DVDs BTTF: Marty with DeLorean
BTTF II: Marty and Doc with DeLorean
BTTF III: Marty, Doc, and Clara with DeLorean
Dolby 5.1 Yes Corrected Widescreen Yes
2010 25th Anniversary R1 Blu-ray/Digital copy Blue with Marty and Doc with DeLorean DTS-HD 5.1 Yes Corrected Widescreen (squished credits on Part I) Yes
2010 R2 Blu-ray Blue with Marty with DeLorean DTS-HD 5.1 Yes Corrected Widescreen  ?
2010 Limited Edition Collector's Tin R2 Blu-ray Tin blue with Marty with DeLorean DTS-HD 5.1 Yes Corrected Widescreen  ?
2010 25th Anniversary R2 DVD Blue with Marty with DeLorean Dolby 5.1 Yes Corrected Widescreen Yes

The footage that was shot with Eric Stoltz in the role of Marty McFly before he was replaced with Michael J. Fox was not included in Universal's original DVD release in 2002 or in 2009, despite many fans hoping that Universal would include it. Some very brief footage has been released in the Blu-ray version in 2010.

Other media[edit]

Television series[edit]

A animated television series, Back to the Future: The Animated series, lasted two seasons, each featuring 13 episodes, and ran on CBS from September 14, 1991 to December 26, 1992.

Comic books[edit]

A comic book series was published by Harvey Comics detailing further adventures of the animated series.

Books[edit]

Each film in the trilogy also received a novelization that expanded on the movies by adding scenes, characters and dialog, often culled from early-draft scripts.

In 2012, Hasslein Books released A Matter of Time: The Unauthorized Back to the Future Lexicon, written by Rich Handley.[15] The book was released in cooperation with BTTF.com, the official Back to the Future Web site.[16] A second volume, Back in Time: The Unauthorized Back to the Future Chronology, by Greg Mitchell and Rich Handley, was released in 2013.[17]

Games[edit]

Various video games based on the Back to the Future movies have been released over the years for home video game systems, including the Atari ST Also ZX Spectrum and Commodore 64 computers, the Sega Master System, the Sega Genesis/Mega Drive, NES, and Super Nintendo system.

Stage musical[edit]

On 31 January 2014, it was announced that a stage musical adaptation of the first film is in production.[18] The show, which will be co-written by original writers Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale, is expected to be performed in 2015. According to Gale, the musical will be "true to the spirit of the film without being a slavish remake". The musical is part of the 30th anniversary of the original film.

Theme park ride[edit]

Back to the Future: The Ride is a simulator ride based on and inspired by the Back to the Future films and is a mini-sequel to 1990's Back to the Future Part III. The original attraction opened on May 2, 1991, at Universal Studios Florida. It also opened on June 2, 1993 at Universal Studios Hollywood and on March 31, 2001 at Universal Studios Japan. The rides in the United States have since been replaced by The Simpsons Ride. The ride in Japan remains operational.

Nighttime Studio Tour (2015)[edit]

In celebration of Universal Studios Hollywood's 50th anniversary in 2015, the Nighttime Studio Tour will complement the popular daytime experience by offering a nighttime tour of the famous studio backlot. One of the new featured attractions will be a Back to the Future special effects stunt spectacular located at Courthouse Square.

References[edit]

  1. ^ "Marty McFly entry on ''100 greatest movie characters''". Empire. December 5, 2006. Retrieved July 1, 2011. 
  2. ^ "Doc Brown entry on ''100 greatest movie characters". Empire. December 5, 2006. Retrieved July 1, 2011. 
  3. ^ "Back to the Future (1985)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved December 4, 2010. 
  4. ^ "Back to the Future Part II (1989)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved December 4, 2010. 
  5. ^ "Back to the Future Part II (Foreign gross)". The Numbers. Retrieved December 4, 2010. 
  6. ^ "Back to the Future Part III (1990)". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved December 4, 2010. 
  7. ^ "Top Trilogies – Domestic: Adjusted for Ticket Price Inflation". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved July 1, 2011. 
  8. ^ "All Time Box Office Records: Top Trilogies – Domestic". Box Office Mojo. June 17, 2007. Retrieved July 1, 2011. 
  9. ^ "Top Grossing Tilogies Worldwide". Box Office Mojo. May 15, 2007. Retrieved July 1, 2011. 
  10. ^ BTTF 2-Disc Special Edition DVD coming in February! at the Wayback Machine (archived March 3, 2009)
  11. ^ Surpless, Brendan (June 3, 2008). "RUMOR: Bob Gale hints "Back to the Future" may be coming to Blu-ray Disc". HighDefDiscNews. Retrieved July 6, 2010. 
  12. ^ "From Universal Studios Home Entertainment, One of the Biggest Motion Picture Trilogies Comes to Blu-ray for the First Time Ever". California: Prnewswire.com. June 28, 2010. Retrieved July 6, 2010. 
  13. ^ Shaffer, R.L. (October 25, 2010). "Back to the Future: 25th Anniversary Trilogy Blu-ray Review". IGN. Retrieved December 4, 2010. 
  14. ^ "How to remove/insert discs". IGN. Retrieved December 4, 2010. 
  15. ^ http://www.hassleinbooks.com/pages/book_bttfLexicon.php
  16. ^ Hasslein Books' Unauthorized Back to the Future Lexicon Now Available for Pre-order
  17. ^ http://www.hassleinbooks.com/pages/book_bttfTimeline.php
  18. ^ http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/entertainment-arts-25976383

External links[edit]