Back to the Future is a 1985 American science-fiction adventure comedy film directed by Robert Zemeckis and written by Zemeckis and Bob Gale. It stars Michael J. Fox as teenager Marty McFly, who is sent back in time to 1955, where he meets his future parents in high school and accidentally becomes his mother’s romantic interest. Christopher Lloyd portrays the eccentric scientist Dr. Emmett “Doc” Brown, Marty’s friend who helps him repair the damage to history by helping Marty cause his parents to fall in love. Marty and Doc must also find a way to return Marty to 1985.
Zemeckis and Gale wrote the script after Gale mused upon whether he would have befriended his father if they had attended school together. Various film studios rejected the script until the financial success of Zemeckis’ Romancing the Stone. Zemeckis approached Steven Spielberg, who agreed to produce the project at Amblin Entertainment, with Universal Pictures as distributor. The first choice for the role of Marty McFly was Michael J. Fox. However, he was busy filming his television series Family Ties and the show’s producers would not allow him to star in the film. Consequently, Eric Stoltz was cast in the role. During filming, Stoltz and the filmmakers decided that the role was miscast, and Fox was again approached for the part. Now with more flexibility in his schedule and the blessing of his show’s producers, Fox managed to work out a timetable in which he could give enough time and commitment to both.
Back to the Future was released on July 3, 1985, grossing over $381 million worldwide, becoming the highest-grossing film of 1985. It won the Hugo Award for Best Dramatic Presentation, the Saturn Award for Best Science Fiction Film, and the Academy Award for Best Sound Effects Editing, as well as receiving three additional Academy Award nominations, five BAFTA nominations, and four Golden Globe nominations, including Best Motion Picture (Musical or Comedy). Ronald Reagan even quoted the film in his 1986 State of the Union Address. In 2007, the Library of Congress selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry, and in June 2008 the American Film Institute’s special AFI’s 10 Top 10 designated the film as the 10th-best film in the science fiction genre. The film marked the beginning of a franchise, with two sequels, Back to the Future Part II (1989) and Back to the Future Part III (1990), as well as an animated series, theme park ride, and several video games.
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