The movies follow the adventures of time-travelling high-school student Marty McFly and inventor Doctor Emmett Brown, as they travel throughout several time periods in the past (1885 and 1955), present (1985), and future (2015). The first movie was the highest grossing movie of 1985 and became an international phenomenon, leading to two sequels which were filmed back-to-back and released in 1989 and 1990 respectively. The trilogy is widely noted for its irreverent comedy, eccentric characters, and ability to incorporate complex theories of time-travel without confusing the audience. Though the two sequels did not perform as well at the box office as the first movie, the trilogy remains immensely popular after 20 years and has yielded such spin-offs as an animated television series and a motion-simulation ride at the Universal Studios theme parks in Orlando, Florida; Universal City, California; and Osaka, Japan.
- Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly, Marty McFly, Jr. (son of Marty), Marlene McFly (daughter of Marty), and Seamus McFly (great-great-grandfather of Marty). In Part III, Michael J. Fox also appears in an old McFly family photo as Marty's great-grandfather William McFly. Marty comments that he's a "good looking guy."
- Christopher Lloyd as Dr. Emmett Brown
- Thomas F. Wilson as Biff Tannen, Griff Tannen (grandson of Biff) and Buford "Mad Dog" Tannen (great-grandfather of Biff)
- Lea Thompson as Lorraine Baines (McFly/Tannen) and Maggie McFly (Seamus' wife, Marty's great-great-grandmother)
- James Tolkan as Mr. Strickland and Chief Marshal James Strickland (grandfather)
- Claudia Wells and Elisabeth Shue as Jennifer Parker (McFly)
- Crispin Glover and Jeffrey Weissman as George McFly
- Mary Steenburgen as Clara Clayton
17-year-old Marty McFly is accidentally sent back in time to 1955 in a time machine built from a DeLorean by eccentric scientist Doc Emmett L. Brown. Upon arriving in 1955, he inadvertently causes his parents to never meet. To make matters worse, Marty did not bring back any extra plutonium to power the time machine, so he must find the 1955 version of Doc Brown to help him out. Not only is his own existence in danger; Marty must get his parents back together before his only chance to get back to the future.
In Part II, Doc Brown travels with Marty to the year 2015, where he has discovered Marty's family is in ruins. Marty, using an idea given to him in the first film by Doc, buys a sports almanac which he plans to use to gamble and make a fortune. However, Doc catches him and throws the almanac in the trash, which old Biff Tannen finds. While Marty and Doc are at 2015 Marty's house, Biff steals the DeLorean and gives the book to himself at some point in the past. When Doc and Marty return to 1985, they find that Biff has used the almanac's knowledge to make himself rich and control Hill Valley. Discovering that old Biff went back to 1955, Marty and Doc set out to steal the almanac from Biff in 1955 before he can use it to destroy their lives.
After finding out that Doc Brown is trapped in 1885, Marty sets out to find the 1955 Doc to help him find the DeLorean and restore it to working order. Instead of going back to 1985 as Doc wished, Marty travels back to 1885 to bring his friend back to the future. Unfortunately Marty rips a hole in the fuel line, rendering the DeLorean immobile. Further, Doc has fallen in love with the schoolteacher Clara Clayton, and insists on staying in 1885. Marty must convince Doc to come back with him and find a way to get back to his time before it's too late.
Recurring gags and catchphrase counts
- See Recurring gags
In July 1998, Universal Studios announced that Back to the Future would be one of their first 10 releases to the new format, though it ended up being delayed for five years. The footage that was shot with Eric Stoltz in the role of Marty McFly (before he was replaced with Michael J. Fox a few weeks into shooting) has never been officially released. This footage was not included in Universal's original DVD release in 2002 or in 2005, despite many fans hoping that Universal would include it.
The Back to the Future trilogy was first released on DVD at the end of 2002 in both widescreen and full screen versions (in a blue box with Marty and Doc on the cover).
Devoted fans of the films quickly noticed that the video of the widescreen version of Parts II and III contained numerous shots that had been framed incorrectly, either because the shots were too high or low to center the image correctly, or because they "zoomed in" on the image, eliminating portions of the image on all sides. (Because the movies were originally shot in open matte, the full screen version was unaffected by this.) Outraged fans quickly organized petitions demanding that Universal Studios correct the problem and re-release the DVD set.
In May 2003, Universal corrected the problem and issued "V2" (Version 2) DVDs, that could only be distinguished from the original, flawed DVDs by the mark of a small "V2" near the edge of the discs themselves (and, of course, by comparing the corrected video). However, they did not initially begin packaging the V2 discs with the trilogy box set that was being sent to retailers. Instead, Universal set up a toll-free phone number ((888) 703-0010 in the US) which owners of the original DVDs could call, and ask for a postage-paid envelope to be sent to them. The owner would send their flawed discs to Universal in the envelope, and would soon thereafter receive the corrected "V2" discs by mail. Because Universal did little to publicize this offer outside of the Internet and devoted fan circles, many have criticized Universal's refusal to issue a straight recall of the flawed discs and instead force concerned customers to jump through hoops just to get the correct video of the film.
In January 2005, Universal began a nationwide promotional campaign, announcing that they would re-issue the DVDs of the trilogy at a special low price (about half the set's original retail price) on January 25, 2005, and then put the entire trilogy on moratorium merely a week later, on February 1, 2005. (New stickers on the box declared "Lowest Price Ever: Own It Before Time Runs Out!") The discs in this release contained no new content or bonus features from the original release (indeed, even the packaging was almost identical, except for the promotional sticker and excluding the multi-page, full color DVD menu booklet. No booklet or chapter insert is included in the revised release.), but did finally contain the corrected V2 discs. Curiously, only the disc for Part II displays the "V2" marking on its edge; the Part III disc does not, but fans have analyzed its video carefully and concluded that, despite the lack of the "V2" marking, the Part III disc is the corrected one. (This is also supported by the date of creation of the disc, which matches that of the "V2" release.)
Release formats and features
|Audio||Scene Specific Commentary||Framing||Enhanced MJ Fox interview|
|1993 (Part I)||Stereo||No||?||No|
|1992 (Part I) VHS||Stereo||No||Generous||No|
|2002 R1 DVD||Dolby 5.1||Yes||Incorrect Widescreen||Yes|
|2002 R2 UK DVD||Dolby 5.1 and DTS||No||Incorrect Widescreen||No|
|2002 R2 German DVD||Dolby 5.1 and DTS||No||Incorrect Widescreen||?|
|2003 "V2" (Part II & Part III) DVD||Dolby 5.1||Yes||Corrected Widescreen||Yes|
|2005 R1 DVD||Dolby 5.1||Yes||Corrected Widescreen||Yes|
|2005 R2 UK DVD||Dolby 5.1 and DTS||Yes||Corrected Widescreen||Yes|
|2005 R2 German DVD||Dolby 5.1 and DTS||No||Corrected Widescreen||?|
|2005 R2 Japanese DVD||?||?||Corrected Widescreen||?|
|2006 R2 UK DVD||?||?||Corrected Widescreen||?|
References in popular culture
All three posters were done by noted poster artist Drew Struzan. Each poster features a variation on the same pose, and has the same number of characters present as each movie is numbered (one character for Part I, two for Part II, and three for Part III). It should also be noted that the DeLorean's wheels change in each poster: in Part I they are normal wheels, in Part II they are hover wheels, and in Part III they are flanged wheels on train tracks. In the Part I and Part II posters, Marty and the Doc (in Part II) look at their wristwatches and lift glasses and a visor respectively, whereas in Part III they look at pocketwatches and raise their hats. In the first poster Marty's clothing is what he wears on the night he time travels: a down vest over a jean jacket, flannel shirt, jeans and Nike shoes. In Part II, Marty and Doc have the wardrobe from 2015; Doc's (yellow jacket and pants, a red shirt with Japanese symbols, and a transparent necktie) was first seen in the closing scene of the first movie, and both the jacket and shoes Marty wears were given to him so he could pass as his son. In Part III, Marty and Doc are dressed as cowboys to fit the 1885 setting (though in the movie, Marty also wears a Clint Eastwood-like poncho). Clara also is seen in the poster for Part III, peering over Doc's shoulder.
A modified version of the Part I artwork, which added Doc Brown to the original image, was used on the cover of the trilogy's DVD release.
- Various video games based on the Back to the Future movies have been released over the years for home video game systems, including the Commodore 64 computer, the Sega Master System, the Sega Genesis/Megadrive, Nintendo Entertainment System, and Super Nintendo system.
- LJN also released Back to the Future Part II & III for NES in 1990, which unlike the previous game, was a side scrolling platform game that allowed traveling back and forth between the different time periods from the trilogy as Marty attempts to correct the timeline and get back to the real 1985. See also Back to the Future video games.
- In 2001, Data East Pinball (now Stern Pinball) released the Back to the Future pinball game (based on all three movies), designed by Joe Kaminkow, with music by Brian Schmidt.
- A downloadable Back to the Future mod was developed for the PC version of Grand Theft Auto: Vice City. The player can drive, fly, and travel through time with the DeLorean time machine. See also Back to the Future Mod for GTA: Vice City.
- BTTF.com Store
- Official Universal Pictures site advertising the trilogy.
- BTTF Frequently Asked Questions written by Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis
- Back to the Future at the Internet Movie Database
- Back to the Future Part II at the Internet Movie Database
- Back to the Future Part III at the Internet Movie Database
- Radio Interview with B2TF Producer Frank Marshall from FBi 94.5 Sydney Australia
- Grand Theft Auto BTTF DeLorean Mod Download.
- Back to the Future Blog Back to the Future Blog
- BTTF Online Fansite BTTF Online Fansite
- BTTF Online Message Board
- A fan news site unaffiliated with Universal Studios offering officially licensed memorabilia.
- Kristen Sheley
- BTTF DVD Framing Fiasco Information
- Retour vers le Futur
- Back To The Future Trilogy Argentina
- BTTFPt Blog em português da Trilogia Back to the Future
- Back to the Future 1st draft
- Back to the Future 4th draft
- Back to the Future II 1st draft
- Back to the Future II/III Feb. 8, 1989 draft
- Back to the Future I/II/III final drafts