ByJonathan Sim, writer at
I'm a writer/film theorist. Check out my articles on Pixar, Harry Potter, Back to the Future, Die Hard, politics, and more!
Jonathan Sim

Happy New Year! I figured what better way to start the year than with new knowledge so here are 50 amazing facts about the 1985 film, Back to the Future.

  • The script for the film was rejected over 40 times by many movie studios, including Disney.
  • A studio executive tried to change the movie’s name from Back to the Future to Spaceman from Pluto because they felt people would shun a movie with the name “future” in it. Steven Spielberg thought the memo was a joke.
  • Marty and Doc met when Marty heard many people talking about how psychotic Doc was so when Marty was 12, he snuck into his lab. Doc found him and gave him a part time job there.
  • In early drafts of the script, the time machine was a refrigerator.
  • Before Marty makes his time travel journey, the mall Marty goes to is the Twin Pines Mall. However, when Marty went back to 1955, he accidentally ran over one of the two pine trees the mall was named after, so the mall was named the Lone Pine Mall when he comes back to 1985.
  • John DeLorean wrote Bob Gale a letter thanking him for keeping his dream alive.
  • The car used for the time machine is a DeLorean DMC-12.
  • It was used because of its gull-wing doors, as they looked like they belonged to a UFO and they were planning on the joke where a family thinks Marty is an extraterrestrial.
  • Only 32 special effects were used for the film.
  • Hill Valley High School scenes were filmed at Whittier High, Richard Nixon’s alma mater.
  • Bob Gale came up with the idea for the film when he found his father’s old yearbook. He had been to the same high school as Bob and he wondered if they would be friends had they attended school at the same time.
  • There were only ten weeks between the time they finished shooting and the film’s release.
  • At the beginning of the movie, we see a mini statue hanging off the minute hand of a clock in Doc’s lab. Doc did the same later in the film.
  • A scene was cut between the dinner scene and the scene where Doc calls Marty. It involved Marty about to send the demo tape of him and his band to the record company. But he decided not to so he left it on his desk. This explains why at the end of the movie, when Marty goes down to breakfast, he is holding an envelope which suggests that he decided to send it in.
  • The Twin Pines Mall was filmed at the Puente Hills Mall.
  • When Doc sends Einstein one minute into the future, it is actually 1 minute and 21 seconds between the time it vanishes and the time it reappears. It reappears at 1:21 and the time machine requires 1.21 gigawatts.
  • Doc is about to travel 25 years into the future shortly before Marty travels to 1955. He says that he would get to see who would win the next 25 world series. In Back to the Future Part II, Marty buys an almanac that would tell him sports statistics.
  • The reason Michael J. Fox’s name has a J in it is because when he joined the Screen Actors Guild, there was already an actor named Michael Fox and the Screen Actors Guild can’t have two actors with the same name. At one point, George says, “I’ll miss my favorite TV show, Science Fiction Theatre.” The original Michael Fox appeared on that show.
  • Eric Stoltz appears at least twice in the movie. Some believe that he’s the one that jumps into the DeLorean to escape the terrorists, but this hasn’t been confirmed. Stoltz IS seen when Marty punches Biff in the face and he is also seen during the skateboard chase in the shot before Marty drives his skateboard into the lady.
  • Before Lorraine asks Marty to the dance, Lorraine and Doc exchange an awkward greeting. This is the only on-screen interaction between the two despite being together in five films and a TV film.
  • While filming the scene where Lorraine drinks and smokes in the car, the crew played a prank on Michael J. Fox. At one point, Marty has to take a sip of the alcohol and spit it out. The alcohol was actually water. The crew replaced the water with real alcohol and Fox didn’t know he had drunken actual alcohol until afterwards.
  • The Johnny B. Goode sequence was originally going to be cut out, but it was left in when test audiences loved it.
  • When Marty performed Johnny B. Goode, he mimics famous rock stars. He kicks the speaker (The Who), plays the guitar while lying down (AC/DC), and does the duck walk (Chuck Berry).
  • Ford offered Bob Gale $75,000 if they changed the time machine from a DeLorean to a Mustang. Gale’s response was “Doc Brown doesn’t drive a f***ing mustang!”
  • Ronald Reagan loved the movie. He also loved Doc’s line, “Ronald Reagan? The actor?!”, when Marty tells him Reagan would be president in 1985. Reagan loved it so much he had the projectionist rewind the movie so that he could watch the line again.
  • The first choice for the role of Marty McFly was Michael J. Fox. However, he was committed to filming the show, Family Ties.
  • So instead, they got Eric Stoltz to play Marty. However, no one thought he was funny enough or worked with the character well. Stoltz could play Marty’s character, but Fox actually had Marty’s personality.
  • Stoltz was a method actor, and only wanted to be called Marty during filming, which annoyed many others, including Thomas F. Wilson.
  • He would also hurt Wilson’s collarbone in the scene where he punches him in the cafe.
  • Wilson wanted to repay the favor by punching him at the dance scene.
  • Stoltz was fired from filming after about six weeks and they were able to get Fox as Marty, as long as he filmed Family Ties in the morning and Back to the Future at night.
  • According to Fox, he would be looking for a Back to the Future prop on the set of Family Ties and nearly called his Family Ties co-star, Meredith Baxter, “Doc”.
  • Ralph Macchio turned down the role of Marty McFly because he thought the movie was about a kid, a car, and some plutonium pills.
  • Marty was originally going to be named Marty McDermott. It was Robert Zemeckis who changed the name to McFly.
  • Johnny Depp auditioned for the role of Marty. Bob Gale didn’t even realize this and apparently, he wasn’t memorable enough.
  • Marty rides skateboards, chases girls, and wants to become a rock star, which is exactly what Michael J. Fox says he did when he was in high school.
  • Doc Brown’s hunch is due to the fact that Michael J. Fox is about 5’4’’ and Christopher Lloyd is 6’1’’ and they needed to look closer in size.
  • Christopher Lloyd originally denied the role of Doc Brown, but took the role after being persuaded by his wife.
  • John Lithgow, Dudley Moore, and Jeff Goldblum were all considered for the role of Doc Brown.
  • Doc was originally going to have a pet chimpanzee, but the head of universal said, “I looked it up. No movie with a chimpanzee ever made any money.”
  • It took three hours to transform the young Lea Thompson into the alcoholic 47-year old Lorraine.
  • Crispin Glover lost his voice during filming, so some of the lines you see him say are mouthed and recorded later.
  • Glover is three years younger than his on-screen son, portrayed by Michael J. Fox.
  • Glover also previously appeared alongside Fox in an episode of Family Ties.
  • Glover claims that he has only seen the film once shortly after the release. In contrast, Christopher Lloyd says he sometimes stumbles across one of the films while channel surfing and watches.
  • Biff Tannen was named after Ned Tanen.
  • Thomas F. Wilson, who played Biff, Griff, and Buford in the films, gets asked so many questions about the films that he hands out cards with a lot of answers to BTTF questions.
  • Biff's “butthead” and “make like a tree and get out of here” lines were improvised by Tom Wilson.
  • One of Biff’s gang members is portrayed by Billy Zane.
  • The teacher that tells Marty’s band that they were “too darn loud” is portrayed by Huey Lewis, who wrote the song they were playing.

That's it! Did you like it?


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