As Back to the Future got closer to its release, there was a lot of stress to go around. Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale had a lot riding on the picture. Zemeckis was afraid that he would not be trusted with another big project if the movie bombed. Michael J. Fox’s career was on the rise, but a failed project could undermine his career before it really started. Oddly enough, the studio that was footing the bill had the least to lose. While the project went overbudget, it wasn’t by a crazy amount. Even if Back to the Future lost every penny the studio spent on it, it still wouldn’t make a dent in the massive profits brought in by E.T. Making Back to the Future would keep Steven Spielberg happy and that’s all that mattered to Universal Pictures.
Of course, Back to the Future was a phenomenon. It made Michael J. Fox a superstar. Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale could now walk into any studio they wished (without Steven Spielberg) and make any project they wanted. Universal had a massive hit, bigger than even it had expected or hoped for. The studio’s famed tour would now make a point of driving past the film’s sets. “Mockingbird Square” so named after being used in the classic film To Kill A Mockingbird, became forever known as “Courthouse Square” after it stood in for Hill Valley in Back to the Future.
Universal Pictures obviously wanted a sequel. Zemeckis and Gale wanted to complete their trilogy on their own terms. Thus they required Universal to approve both part two and part three to go into production at the same time. It was an unprecedented request that was wholeheartedly approved by Universal Pictures.
The film inspired a slew of spinoffs, including an attraction built at Universal Studios theme parks around the world. While the attractions have been replaced, the film still has a large presence at Universal Studios Hollywood, where it was filmed.
In recent years, the film’s fans have further embraced it, with its 30th Anniversary garnering much attention and interest. The film might have had a rocky beginning and an even rockier production, but it was the one in a million film that rose above all that to become a classic blockbuster. The wise words spoken by Doc Brown in the end could have been inspired by the film’s rocky production. What could have been an epic failure became an epic success.
“It means your future hasn't been written yet. No one's has. Your future is whatever you make it. So make it a good one.”
- Doc Brown