Universal Studios head Sid Sheinberg didn't like the title "Back to the Future," claiming nobody would see a movie with "future" in the title. In a memo to Zemeckis, Sheinberg suggested the title be changed to "Spaceman from Pluto," and the title reference be worked into the film.
In response, Spielberg sent a memo back to Sheinberg, thanking him for sending his wonderful "joke memo" and that the office "got a kick out of it." Embarrassed, Sheinberg let Zemeckis and Spielberg keep the film's original title.
A fridge or a car?
The time machine used to be a refrigerator.
In early drafts, the time machine was a refrigerator that had to be transported to an atomic bomb testing site. Fearing kids would follow suit by climbing inside refrigerators and geting trapped, however, director Robert Zemeckis and producer Steven Spielberg decided to scrap the idea, settling instead on the iconic -- and conveniently more mobile -- DeLorean time machine.
Eric Stoltz vs. Michael J. Fox
Eric Stoltz was originally cast as Marty McFly.
Although Michael J. Fox was the first choice for McFly, time conflicts with Fox's role on "Family Ties" prevented him from taking the part. Eric Stoltz of "Mask" fame took the role, but Zemeckis and Spielberg felt he wasn't the right fit.
"He's a magnificent actor, but his comedy sensibilities were very different from what I had written with Bob [Gale]," Zemeckis said in an interview.
So after five weeks of shooting with Stoltz, Zemeckis convinced Universal Pictures to let him re-cast Fox, working through time conflicts and adding $3 million to the movie's budget. Several scenes had to be re-shot, including Marty's first encounter with his teenage father in a diner.
Pepsi product placement
There are Pepsi references all throughout the film.
Actor Michael J. Fox was a major endorser of Pepsi in 1985 and often appeared in commercials. Throughout the film Pepsi products appear, from cans to advertisements and even branded luggage. The "Back to the Future" Wikipedia page lists at least 12 Pepsi references through the three films in the trilogy -- can you spot them all?
"Back to the Future" is an inspiration to skateboarding.
Marty McFly's street skateboard style is often cited as inspiration for a generation of skateboarders. In the 1980s, "street skating" was taking off, boosting popularity for skateboards like the Valterra model McFly rocks in the movie. Numerous companies even make replicas of the exact skateboard used in the movie. We're still waiting on the hoverboard from the second movie, though Lexus says it has a working concept model.
The rejected script
The script was rejected at least 40 times.
After getting a deal to write from Columbia Pictures, Zemeckis and producer Bob Gale finished the first draft of the "Back to the Future" script in 1981. Columbia dropped the project, and Zemeckis and Gale wrote four drafts of the movie, all of which were rejected by every major film studio over the next four years. Once Steven Spielberg joined the project as a producer, the final draft was set up at Universal Pictures.
Marty's "Johnny B. Goode" performance was inspired by rock music's biggest stars.
McFly's iconic performance of "Johnny B. Goode" at his parents' school dance calls on some moves from rock music's biggest stars. In a few short seconds, McFly hits all the legends: Chuck Berry's one-legged hop, the windmill made famous by The Who's Pete Townshend, playing behind his head like Stevie Ray Vaughan and stopping the show with a Jimi Hendrix / Van Halen inspired solo. Go Johnny go.
Spaceships and time machines
The DeLorean was chosen because it looks like a spaceship.
When planning for the time machine, Zemeckis and Gale chose the DeLorean for its distinctive gull wing doors and futuristic look. This made it more plausible that people in 1955 would mistake it for an alien spacecraft. The look was so popular car companies began making body kits so DeLorean owners could replicate the look of the time machine. The movie couldn't revive the Delorean, however - the company that made them went bankrupt in 1982.
Michael J. Fox was filming "Family Ties" and "Back to the Future" at the same time.
To get Fox for the role of Marty McFly, Zemeckis had to work around Fox's role at "Family Ties." Fox would drive to the "Back to the Future" set at night to shoot, often only getting about five hours of sleep for two months. The majority of the filming for "Back to the Future" took place between 6 p.m. and 6 a.m.
Man's best friend
Doc's pet dog was originally a chimpanzee.
In early drafts of the script, Doc's pet dog Einstein was actually a chimpanzee named "Shemp." Sid Sheinberg, then-head of Universal Studios, told Gale, Zemeckis and Spielberg to scrap the idea. Thank goodness.
Ronald Reagan quoted the movie in a State of the Union Address.
In his 1986 State of the Union address, Reagan quotes "Back to the Future": "Never has there been a more exciting time to be alive, a time of rousing wonder and heroic achievement. As they said in the film 'Back to the Future,' 'Where we're going, we don't need roads.'"
The film jokes about Reagan being president and originally Zemeckis was afraid of offending him. Once Reagan saw the movie, he thought the joke was so funny he ordered the projectionist at the theatre to stop the movie reel and show the scene again.
Credit: CBS News
A musical cameo
Huey Lewis makes a cameo.
In the beginning of the movie, the buttoned-up judge with the megaphone is actually award-winning musician Huey Lewis, of Huey Lewis and the News, whose songs "The Power of Love" and "Back in Time" are featured on the movie's soundtrack. The song Marty's band plays for the audition is a remix of "The Power of Love" as well.