Doc Brown and Lea Thompson Only Meet Once in the Whole Franchise
When Lorraine follows Marty back to Doc’s house, she and Doc exchange an awkward greeting. This marks the only on-screen dialogue that Christopher Lloyd and Lea Thompson ever exchange.
Marty Throwing the Frisbee in 1885 Is Technically Acurate
In Part III, Marty uses a Frisbie pie plate to knock a gun out of Mad Dog’s hand. In 1871, the Frisbie Pie Company started in Connecticut. Their pie pans were thrown on the campus of Yale and eventually lead to the invention of Frisbees.
The Third Movie Uses Time Travel to Tie Seamlessly Into the First Film
In Back to the Future, Doc tells Marty he was inspired to create the flux capacitor after hitting his head on the bathroom sink while trying to hang a clock over his toilet. In Back to the Future III, when Doc freaks out after seeing Marty in his house and runs into the bathroom, you can just see the clock hanging above the toilet he slipped on.
The Franchise Has a Very Heartfelt Origin
The inspiration for the films largely originated from Bob Gale discovering his father’s high school yearbook and wondering whether he would have been friends with his father as a teenager. Gale also said that if he had the chance to go back in time he would really go back and see if they would have been friends.
ZZ Top Had an Impromptu Concert on the Set of Back to the Future III
According to the book Billy Gibbons: Rock & Roll Gearhead, ZZ Top was hanging around the set and was asked to be the town band. During one take, the camera broke and while waiting for it to be repaired, Michael J. Fox asked if they would play “Hey Good Lookin’,” which they did. Two hours later, someone wondered whether or not the camera had been repaired. Robert Zemeckis replied that it had been fixed for quite a while, he just didn’t want to stop the party that had evolved.
At the school dance, Biff is shown “spiking” the punch with alcohol. In Back to the Future, George is shown drinking the punch before confronting Biff in the parking lot. It may be that George’s uncharacteristic courage in the original scene can be attributed to drinking Biff’s spiked punch.
The biggest effect in Back to the Future II is the vista glide. There are three scenes that use the effect of the same actor interacting with themselves. It’s the first film ever to accomplish interaction between the same actor on the screen twice as two different characters.
There’s a Fantastic Hidden Clint Eastwood Joke in Back to the Future III
When Doc and Marty are at the drive-in preparing the DeLorean for the trip to 1885, Marty mentions Clint Eastwood and Doc replies, “Clint who?” In this shot, there is a movie poster on the drive-in’s wall showcasing Revenge of the Creature and Tarantula, films which have some of the first film appearances of a young, then-unknown Eastwood.
They Accidentally Hanged Michael J. Fox
In Back to the Future III when “Mad Dog” tried to lynch Marty, Michael J. Fox was accidentally hanged, rendering him unconscious for a short time. He wrote about this in his autobiography Lucky Man.
The shirt that Doc wears for the majority of the second film features a design depicting cowboys on horseback and a train, foreshadowing the climax of the third film.
Huey Lewis Makes a Cameo in the First Film
When Marty is being judged at the band auditions, the judge who stands up to say he is “just too darn loud” is Huey Lewis whose songs, “The Power of Love” and “Back in Time” are featured on the movie’s soundtrack. He also wrote Marty’s audition song, a re-orchestrated version of “The Power of Love.”
Hill Valley Cost More to Rebuild Than To Build For The Original
When Hill Valley was created for the original Back to the Future they built the town in the pristine 1955 condition and shot the middle of the movie, then damaged it for the 1985 town and shot the beginning and end of the movie. When they decided to shoot Back to the Future II they had to restore it to the same condition it was in 1955. It cost more to rebuild than it had cost to build from scratch.
Doc’s Iconic Hunch Was Developed Due to Michael J. Fox Being Just 5’4″
Doc’s distinctive hunched-over look was developed when the filmmakers realized the extreme difference in height between Christopher Lloyd (6′ 1″) and Michael J Fox (5′ 4″). To compensate for the height difference, director Robert Zemeckis used specific blocking where the two often stood far apart at different camera depths. For close ups, Lloyd would have to hunch over to appear in frame with Fox.
Sequels Not Originally Planned
Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale admitted on the DVD commentary that they were not originally interested in doing a sequel and that the open ending of the first movie was simply meant as a final joke. However, when plans for a sequel were made by the studio, they chose to remain involved in the continuation of their creation, and even extended it to two sequels. Zemeckis has claimed that if he knew that he was going to make a sequel, he would have made sure that Marty’s girlfriend Jennifer wasn’t in the car at the end of the first film.
Michael J. Fox had always been the first choice for Marty, but he was unavailable due to scheduling conflicts. Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale then cast Eric Stoltz as Marty based on his performance in Mask. Reshooting Stoltz’s scenes added $3 million dollars to the budget.
1:21 or 1.21 Is Used Quite Cleverly with Time Trave
When Doc Brown first sends Einstein “one minute” into the future, the time elapsed between when the DeLorean disappears and reappears is actually 1 minute 21 seconds, just as the reappearance occurred at 1:21 am, and the flux capacitor required 1.21 gigawatts of electricity.
The clock for the Hill Valley Clock Tower can be seen in the background, being unloaded from the train, as Doc and Marty talk to the conductor about the train’s speed.
Michael J. Fox Had to Relearn How to Skateboard for the Sequels
Back to the Future II was filmed at the same time as Back to the Future III and in the five years between the sequels and the original Back to the Future, Michael J. Fox had forgotten how to ride a skateboard.
From the day the film wrapped to the day it was released was a mere nine and a half weeks, an unprecedentedly short lead time for a major movie release. Good luck doing that nowadays with the months of CGI required for many films.
Buford Tannen is arrested by Marshall Strickland’s Deputee, rather than the Marshall himself. During the arrest, when the charge “robbing the Pine City Stage” is read, the camera cuts away to Marty and Emmett. There is a reason for both of these things: Buford was originally arrested for the murder of Marshall Strickland and the murder scene was deleted as it was deemed too dark for a family film, and the line was dubbed over.
Mom, Mom Is That You?
When 1985 Jennifer discovers herself in her 2015 home, her daughter Marlene (played by Michael J. Fox) appears at the top of the stairs, saying, “Mom? Mom, is that you?” This is the same exact line spoken by Marty (also played by Fox) in each film of the trilogy when he is knocked out and wakes up in an unfamiliar place.
They filmed in Jamestown, CA, a town that was, in an eerily fitting way, destroyed by lightning in 1996.
Apparently Ronald Reagan was quite amused by Doc Brown’s disbelief that an actor like him could become president, so much so that he had the projectionist stop and replay the scene. He also seemed to enjoy it so much that he even made a direct reference of the film in his 1986 State of the Union address: “As they said in the film Back to the Future, ‘Where we’re going, we don’t need roads.'”
Mark Twain’s Daughter
The character of Clara Clayton is a reference to Mark Twain’s daughter, Clara Clemens. Clemens went on a sleigh ride with her future husband, Ossip Gabrilowitsch, and the horse took fright from a wind-swept newspaper and bolted while Gabrilowitsch lost control. At the top of a hill, next to a 50 foot drop, the sleigh overturned, throwing Clemens out.
Elijah Wood Makes His Theatrical Debut in the Franchise
Elijah Wood’s first feature film appearance came with the role of Video Game Boy in Back to the Future II. He played one of the two video game boys with whom Marty speaks in the diner near the beginning of the film.
Interesting Title Ideas
Universal Pictures head Sid Sheinberg did not like the title Back to the Future, insisting that nobody would see a movie with “future” in the title. In a memo to Robert Zemeckis, he said that the title should be changed to Spaceman from Pluto, tying in with the Marty-as-alien jokes in the film, and also suggested further changes like replacing the “I’m Darth Vader from planet Vulcan” line with “I am a spaceman from Pluto!”
The 1885 setting was partly due to a suggestion by Michael J. Fox, who had commented to producers how he always thought it would be fun to act in a Western.
The First Film Accidentally Laid Some Great Groundwork for Its Sequel
During Doc’s demo of the time machine, just before he is about to leave for the future, he tells Marty “I’ll get to see who wins the next twenty-five World Series.” At the time the scene was written and shot, no one was thinking there would be a sequel, let alone one where the hook would be Marty wanting to get a hold of a “sports almanac” so he could bet on games.
Mother Falling Love with Her Son Wasn’t Risqué Enough
When Robert Zemeckis was trying to sell the idea of the film, one of the companies he approached was Disney, which turned it down because they thought that the story of a mother falling in love with her son was too risqué for a film under their banner. In fact, Disney was the only company to think this was risqué.
The Screen Actors Guild can’t have two people with the same name on their books. So Michael J. Fox inserted the letter J in his name to differentiate himself from an actor named Michael Fox.
Johnny Depp Connection
According to Bob Gale, Johnny Depp auditioned for the role of Marty McFly: “I looked through the notes, and I said, ‘Geez, I don’t even remember that we read Johnny Depp!’ So whatever he did, it wasn’t all that memorable, I guess!”
Marty McFly mimics famous rock stars during the later part of his performance at the school dance, when he starts playing heavy metal. He kicks of the speakers (The Who), plays the guitar while lying down (AC/DC), hopps across the stage with one leg kicked up (Chuck Berry), and solos in the style of Jimi Hendrix and Van Halen.
In the entire Back to the Future trilogy, the “present” date is October 26, 1985 (2015 is the future, 1885 and 1955 are the past). Exactly 25 years later, on October 26, 2010 the entire Back to the Future trilogy was released as a Blu-ray 25th Anniversary Edition.
The embroidery on Marty’s western costume in Back to the Future III is the symbol for atomic energy. It is now worth a fortune.
Carl Good Old Carl
Renowned scientist Carl Sagan considered this the greatest time travel movie ever made. He praised the accuracy in handling the multiple timelines as what would really happen if timetravel were possible. In Back to the Future: The Game, Carl Sagan is the alias used by Doc Brown when visiting Hill Valley in 1931.
Eric Stoltz Was a Much More Violent Marty
Thomas F. Wilson (Biff) almost had his collarbone broken in the scene in which Marty and Biff are about to fight in the cafeteria, Eric Stoltz roughed up Wilson for real take after take, despite repeated requests from Wilson to tone down the aggression. Wilson later said he planned to return the favor during filming of the car park scene outside the dance, but Stoltz was fired before that confrontation could take place
Three Actresses Actually Played Marty’s Girlfriend
Elizabeth Shue was actually the third person to play Marty McFly’s girlfriend, Jennifer. Melora Hardin (not pictured) played Jennifer when Eric Stoltz was Marty. Claudia Wells played Jennifer in Back to the Future, then Elizabeth Shue took over the role.
Back to the Future Was Not an Easy Sell
The script for the original Back to the Future was reportedly rejected 40 times before it was finally green-lit.
Crispin Glover sued the filmmakers, as he had not granted permission to use his likeness in Part II. Crispin’s suit named John Doe 1-100 as defendants, so he did not have to name all of the individuals he was suing. Glover ended up dropping the lawsuit after the case was settled out of court for $765,000 by Universal’s insurance company, which decided it would be cheaper to pay Crispin than to actually go to trial. The Screen Actors Guild subsequently introduced new rules about illicit use of actors.