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Feature: Great Scott!

We go back in Time to discover the genesis of the Time-travelling trilogy as it hits DVD…

It began as 30-year-old writer Bob Gale and 29-year-old Robert Zemeckis finished the ill-received comedy Used Cars, starring Kurt Russell. In January of 1981 the duo completed their fifth collaboration (with cult flick 1941 also under their belts) and once the finishing touches had been added, a first draft script of Back to the Future was unleashed on Hollywood. And no one was interested. Not one single studio liked the idea and, in fact, the only person that Zemeckis had shown the script to who thought it had potential was his old friend and director of 1941, Steven Spielberg.

Three years and as many drafts later, the project was still going nowhere, but since 1981 a few key changes had been made to the script. For instance the Time machine was now a DeLorian car and not a refrigerator and the final sequence would no longer take place at a nuclear test plant. It was this along with renewed interest from Spielberg (who had now added two Indiana Jones movies and E.T. to his résumé) that finally saw the project take flight and on November 26 of 1984 production began. Taking on the role Doc Brown was established off-the-wall actor Christopher Lloyd, while upcoming actor Eric Stoltz assumed the role of Marty McFly… at least for a little while. With around one third of the shooting completed an unprecedented turnaround saw Stoltz out on his ear and Family Ties favourite Michael J Fox brought in to fill his shoes, allegedly because Stoltz never quite came across as a teenager.

By April of the next year principal shooting had been completed and three months later it hit US screens with a bang, scoring $11.3 million on its opening weekend. The eventual video rentals and sales kept the ball rolling, even adding something that would seem to suggest that Marty and Doc’s adventures were far from over.

“I was watching the videotape of Back to the Future when it was first released,” star Michael J Fox remembers. “And an indication of the possibility of a sequel came at the end of the video. Three words appeared on the screen, words that had not been at the end of the film when it was originally released in the theatres – ‘To Be Continued’. My first thought was to call my agent.”

It was no coincidence that this teasing legend had been included on the video, as both Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis had already decided there would be more of Marty’s Time travelling fun.

by Grant Kempster

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Photo © Universal
Feature © Visual Imagination 2002. Not for reproduction

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