Top 10 Less Known Facts About Back to the Future Trilogy

Tags: #BacktotheFuture ,   #MichaelJFox ,   #ZZTop

Hannah White

Hannah White

Last updated:  2021-07-12 09:36:04

On October 26, 1985, Marty McFly jumped into Doc Brown's DeLorean, launching one of the most iconic Hollywood movie series of all time. But it wasn't easy for this sci-fi classic at the beginning. There was a long and rocky road from page to screen, but most problems were solved when legendary Steven Spielberg joined the crew. There's a lot of fun stuff to learn about this crown jewel from the '80s! So stay tuned and check our list of Top 10 less known facts about the Back to the Future trilogy. 

10. Back to the Future Trilogy Almost Didn't Get Made

Who knows what would've happened with this amazing script if Steven Spielberg didn't join the project as a producer. (Photo: jules a./ Unsplash)

We all enjoyed watching the "Back to the Future" trilogy, but a less known fact is that it almost didn't get made. It's hard to imagine that any movie producer or studio executive would discard such a great script, but it did happen. Believe it or not, the "Back to the Future" scenario was rejected 44 times! All major studios, including Disney, thought that the storyline with a mother falling for her son was too controversial and risqué. 

However, everything changed when Steven Spielberg joined the project as a producer, and the final draft was set up at Universal Pictures. After being rejected so many times, Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale couldn't even dream that film school at the University of Southern California will someday use their script as a model for "The Perfect Screenplay."

9. Spaceman From Pluto

Marty appears as Darth Vader from Planet Vulcan

If it weren't for Steven Spielberg, "Back To The Future" would be called "Pluto's Spaceman." Sid Sheinberg, the head of Universal Pictures, sent the note to the "Back to the Future" crew saying that he doesn't like the original title. His ridiculous explanation was that no one would watch a movie with the word "future" in the title. 

Furthermore, he suggested that Marty's line, "I'm Darth Vader from the Planet Vulcan," change to "I'm a spaceman from the planet Pluto" to implement the new title into the movie's joke. Led by Spielberg, the "Back To The Future" crew reached a consensus and wrote to Sheinberg a reply memo saying that his suggestion was a great "joke." Fortunately, Sheinberg was so embarrassed and never brought it up again.

8. Mark Campbell Provided The Voice For the "Johnny B. Goode" Scene

Marty performs "Johnny B. Good" at his parents' school dance

As in most movies from the '80s, music substantially influenced the "Back To The Future" trilogy. One of the most iconic moments from "Back to the Future" is Marty's "Johnny B. Good" performance at his parents' school dance. But while enjoying his singing in the "Enchantment Under the Sea," have you noticed that Marty's crooning was a little off? That's because that wasn't his voice!

His singing was dubbed by Mark Campbell, a lead singer of Jack Mack and the Heart Attack band. He was listed as "Marty McFly" in the film's closing credits but received a "Special Thanks" credit under his own name. Although Michael J. Fox played guitar before getting the role of Marty McFly, he had extensive guitar lessons from Paul Hanson to perform Johnny B. Good. 

7. Ronald Regan and "Back to the Future"

Ronald Regan quotes Doc Brown in his State of the Union address

Stuck in 1955, Marty seeks one person who could help him – his friend Doc. "Ronald Reagan?!? The actor?!? Then who's vice-president?!? Jerry Lewis?!?" We all remember Doc's hilarious reaction after Marthy tells him about the future world and who is the President in 1985. Back in the 50's Regan was best-known from cheap westerns. 

Zemeckis and Gale were somewhat cautious about what the White House would think about their little jab, so they sent a copy of their screenplay for approval. Regan loved it and laughed so hard watching the scene mocking his political career. Regan even included a line from "Back to the Future" in one of his State of the Union address speeches. He actually quoted Doc saying: "Where we're going, we don't need roads." 

6. Not All Scenes With Eric Stoltz Were Cut From "Back to the Future"

Eric Stoltz vs. Michael J. Fox comparison

Robert Zemeckis originally wanted Michael J. Fox to portray Marty McFly, but he was too busy shooting the NBC sitcom - "Family Ties." So, they hired Eric Stoltz, who even learned to play the guitar and ride a skateboard. Nevertheless, he got fired because his acting style wasn't appropriate for a light comedy. The crew put some extra effort to continue shooting around Eric Stoltz to limit the number of re-shoots. 

The producer of "Family Ties"' was approached once more, and this time he agreed to let Fox go for a double-duty. Still, not everything with Stoltz as Marty was deleted. Remember the closeup scene in which Marty punches Biff in Lou's Cafe back in 1955? In a radio interview, Thomas F. Wilson, who played Biff, stated: "It's my belief that Eric Stoltz's fist punches me in the 50's cafe because I do not think we re-shot that because it was a close up of me."

5. Time Machine Was Originally a Refrigerator 

Every DeLorean time machine scene

It's hard to imagine Doc's time machine without the famous DeLorean. Crazy as it may sound, but in the early drafts of the scripts, the time machine looked like an old refrigerator. To power it up and get back to the present day, Doc and Marty had to transport it to Nevada's atomic bomb testing site. Because of budget constraints, Zemeckis decided to rewrite the atomic bomb scene, and the refrigerator was switched with a car. 

Because of its distinctive gull-wing doors and futuristic look, the DeLorean was an obvious choice. With DeLorean as a time machine, they didn't have to worry that kids would start climbing into fridges. Although the movie was a success, it failed to revive DeLorean, and the company bankrupted.

4. ZZ Top from the Old West

ZZ Top performs their song "Doubleback" in the "Back to the Future III"

One of the most iconic cameos from '80 was ZZ Top's in "Back to the Future III." Those famous bearded rockers fitted perfectly in the Old West scenery as they hardly needed any makeup. Arriving on the set, they were even mistaken for old west extras by some of the crew. In their scene, ZZ Top delivered an acoustic, countrified variation of their song "Doubleback." The electrical, harder-rocking version played over the final credits of the movie. 

A less known fact is that they perform a spontaneous concert on set. Robert Zemeckis and the crew enjoyed a two hours show while waiting for the camera to be repaired. Since everyone had such a great time, Zemeckis didn't want to be a party breaker, so he let the jam session continue even when the cameras were fixed shortly after.

3. How Much "Back To The Future" earned?

The movie made $210 million, putting it on top in 1985. Photo by (Sharon McCutcheon/Unsplash)

"Back to the Future" is the slowest movie ever to reach $200 million at the box office, taking 232 days, two weeks longer than My Big Fat Greek Wedding 17 years later. Overall, the movie made $210 million as 1985 No. 1 movie. According to Box Office Mojo, "Back to the Future" would have made $492 million in today's dollars, making it the 62nd highest-earning movie of all time. 

It's hard to imagine that "Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides" (2011) earned almost double since it's a kind of movie you instantly forget the moment you leave the theater. Nonetheless, "Back To The Future" is ranked No. 47 on IMDB's best movies list.

2. The Clock Scene 

The allusion to a famous scene from the 1923 silent movie in the "Back to the Future" opening scene

You all, for sure, remember the "Back to the Future" opening scene with all those clocks ticking and tocking at Doc Brown's garage. They are all running 25 minutes late, not because of time delusion, but Doc's experiment. Among all those clocks, have you noticed the one with a man hanging from a minute hand? It's just like Doc hanging from Hill Valley clock tower later in the movie. 

It's an allusion to a famous scene of the 1923 silent movie Safety Last, starring Harold Lloyd. At the end of the "clocks scene," Marthy talks with Doc on the phone and figures that all clocks are running slow. "Damn, I'm late for school!" is what he says.

1. Lewis Made Marthy Stop Playing His Own Song 

Pinheads failed audition

Does the guy with the megaphone who chides Marty's band, "The Pinheads," for being too loud look familiar? It's actually singer Huey Lewis in his first acting role. It's another great scene, fun and ironic, with Lewis making The Pinheads stop playing his own song, "Power of Love."

Lewis initially refused the offer to participate in the movie as an actor, but he agreed on it after some negotiations. Basically, he wanted to be uncredited, well disguised and didn't want to be used in promotional materials. Lewis's song "Power of Love" was nominated for an Oscar, where it lost to "Say You Say Me" performed by Lionel Richie. Come on, can you really choose between these two? 

Crazy, but there are so many fascinating things about something that almost didn't get made. Which fact did you like the most? The President of the USA quoting lines from the movie? Or maybe a ZZ Top cameo? Or the fact that they even fired such a great actor as Eric Stoltz because they wanted no one else but Michael J. Fox? We hope you enjoyed our list, and we would love to hear what you thought about it in our comment section. See you there in the future.

Cover Photo: YouTube Screenshot


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