The Time Has Come to Remake Back to the Future

Yes, there’s a good chance you end up with this, but that’s a risk I’m willing to take.

First off, I’m going to limit myself to one “Great Scott!” in this entire post, starting now.

I used to be a remake skeptic just like you. “Look what Hollywood is remaking now,” I used to sneer. “How dare they touch Evil Dead! Shame on Darren Aronofsky for even THINKING about Robocop! And Johnny Depp, you are no Gene Wilder! Good DAY sir!” I distinctly remember the sinking feeling when, in 2009, I saw this photo of Zac Efron posing next to his Delorean, which sent the blogs all a-flutter with speculation that he was angling for a remake. “Not Back to the Future,” I moaned. “Is nothing sacred?”

But today, I’m here to tell you that nothing IS sacred, or at least movies aren’t. Movies are just stories, and stories are made to be retold a dozen different ways. When someone tells a great story, it’s silly to put it up on a pedestal and declare no one is ever allowed to tell that story again. Instead, we should get excited about the chance to see a new take on a classic.

I guess Phillip Seymour Hoffman is too old to star in this, right?

Let me give you an extreme example: if Paul Thomas Anderson announced tomorrow he was going to remake The Godfather or Citizen Kane, I would completely support that project and be there on opening day. (Note that I’m specifying that only a top notch writer-director should attempt that kind of once-in-a-generation remake: Paul W. S. Anderson need not apply.) Sure, the odds that he could surpass the original film would be vanishingly slim, but that’s okay. Basically no movie ever made has surpassed The Godfather or Citizen Kane. The important question is, are those interesting stories worth retelling? If the answer is yes, then they are fair game for a remake… so long as you have something new and exciting to bring to the table. A remake should be a variation, not merely an echo. For instance:

1. A foreign film transposed to the United States.

Successful examples: The Magnificent Seven, The Departed, True Lies (yes, True Lies is a remake).

2. Great new actors in classic roles

Successful examples: The Thomas Crown Affair (Pierce Brosnan for Steve McQueen), True Grit (Jeff Bridges for John Wayne), Oceans 11 (Clooney/Pitt/Damon/etc for the Rat Pack)

(Incidentally, have you heard about Jason Reitman’s series of star-studded screenplay readings? He cast Bryan Cranston as Lester in American Beauty, Seth Rogan as the Dude in The Big Lebowski, and Mindy Kaling as Buttercup in The Princess Bride. Paul Rudd was Westley, and Fred Savage reprised his role as the grandson. Those readings are great arguments for how much fun remakes can be.)

3. Better special effects! 

Successful examples: The Fly, The Mummy, I Am Legend (love it except for the last ten minutes)

Chilling cautionary tales that prove this is usually a bad idea: Godzilla, Planet of the Apes, Clash of the Titans

Different decade, same little friend.

4. Modern update on a dated original

Successful examples: Scarface (which was an update of a 1930s gangster film, and has since become extremely dated and is currently being remade), You Got Mail (which also falls into category #3, substituting Tom Hanks for Jimmy Stewart), Casino Royale

Let’s dwell on this fourth category for a moment. Most movies are not MADE to be period pieces, but the world moves on and they stand still. The 1960 Oceans 11 was the height of cool. Today, it just seems like a time capsule. (Did you know that the men involved in the heist were supposed to be old WWII buddies?) That’s why it was a prime candidate for a remake. Soderbergh took the spirit and (some of) the plot of the original, and made everything cool again. In another 30 years, the 2001 Oceans 11 will be charmingly dated, and somebody else will make another remake.

And that leads us to Back to the Future, which I think is screaming out to be remade. The whole idea of the movie was to take a modern teen and send him back to when his parents were teens. When this movie came out, half the people in the movie theater could remember getting their first TV or going to the Enchantment Under the Sea dance. They had lived through it! Today, even the 1980s are a hazy memory. So while the movie will always be brilliant, it no longer feel contemporary, and it loses a little of its resonance with the audience. This is the PERFECT movie to remake once every generation.

He can keep the vest in the remake. Puffy vests never go out of style.

Still not convinced? Consider this: Marty starts in 1985, travels back to 1955, and then jumps forward to 2015. If Hollywood starts planning a Back to the Future remake soon, the new Marty will start in 2015… and travel back to 1985.

That’s right, the bulk of the movie will be set at the same time the original came out.

Say it with me now: Great Scott!

When I try to imagine an updated BTTF, there are some moments that write themselves.

  • Marty would show 1985 Doc footage from the future on his iPhone, not a camcorder.
  • “Oh honey, he’s teasing you. Nobody’s seen Return of the Jedi a hundred times. It hasn’t been released on VHS yet!”
  • “Kurt! Kurt, it’s me! Your cousin Marvin Cobain! You know that new sound you’re looking for? Well listen to this!” (Although since it’s 1985, it’s hard to imagine ANYTHING Marty could do in the song that would make everyone stop dancing and stare at him in shocked silence.)
  • And depending on how the election goes in November: “Tell me, future boy, who’s President of the United States in 2015?” “Barack Obama.” “Barack Obama? Did we lose a war or something?”

The time machine could still be a Delorean, because a Tesla Roadster just wouldn’t be as cool. And the Libyans can still be Libyans.

On the other hand, there are lots of classic BTTF moments that won’t translate well to a new decade. I can’t see an obvious way to update the whole “invention of the skateboard scene.” Is there any common mode of transportation in 2015 that was completely non-existent 30 years ago? The Segway doesn’t count – Marty can’t invent that in five seconds while being chased by an angry gang. But you know what? Remakes shouldn’t be scene by scene recreations anyway.

“So 2015 Marty, you’re saying I should buy stock in Apple now? Are you sure?”

I’d like to see a little more about how Marty and Doc meet. That was always one of the big mysteries of the move to me: what is Marty doing hanging out with this reclusive old weirdo? Maybe the movie could even begin with Marty answering a Craigslist ad from a guy looking for some part time help taking care of his rundown old mansion. It turns out to be Doc, who is a local eccentric Boo Radley figure. I can imagine Marty exploring the house, slowly discovering that this guy he’s doing chores for is actually a kooky inventor. In this version, Marty would barely know Doc when he travels back in time (he’s only been working for him for a few days), but they’d bond in 1985.

And I would suggest they think of another plot device besides driving the car past the clock tower at the exact second it gets hit by lightning. Even as a kid I found that incredibly implausible (Marty even misses the timer that tells him when to start, and he still hits the wire right on the nose). But more importantly, the original movie already DID that sequence, and you can’t top it. I’m sure they could think of another way for the car to catch the lightning bolt, or a completely different power system.

I don’t think a mad scientist would be too much of a stretch, but let’s audition other people before we settle.

The plot may be evergreen, but that doesn’t mean that remaking a classic like BTTF would be easy. To borrow a phrase from 1985, I pity the fool who steps into Michael J. Fox’s self-tying hi-tops, or Christopher Lloyd’s labcoat. (I think the obvious choices for Doc are Nicolas Cage or Johnny Depp, but I can’t say I’d be thrilled with either of them.)

Maybe the way to deal with this is to put a new spin on the characters. I ran this idea by Fenzel, and he suggested a gender flip: Marti can be a girl. In this version, her MOM is a total nerd who needs to build up the confidence to ask that cute boy to the school dance. (Or more interestingly, her mom’s a total bad girl rebel biker chick, and Marti has to convince her to give the sweet, nerdy boy a chance.) Instead of Biff being a meathead, make her your classic mean girl head cheerleader type (Buff? Babs?). The big problem with this is while male Marty trying to fend off the sexual advances of his mom is funny, female Marti fending off her dad is really creepy.

By the way: Matthew Broderick must play Mr. Strickland. This is non-negotiable.

But I’m not proposing JUST a remake of Back to the Future. I want to remake the whole trilogy! This means that in the second movie, we get to create a Minority Report-style world for Marty (or Marti) to explore. I’d actually like to keep as much of the Back to the Future 2 version of 2015 as possible, with flying cars and a 3D shark attacking Marty on the sidewalk. And hoverboards, obviously. As for Back to the Future 3, going back exactly 100 years would send Marty to 1915, which isn’t really a fun time period (is Doc somehow killed by the Red Baron?). But you could send him back 80 years, and then make Part Three a fun gangster flick. Babs’ great-great-grandmother could be Mrs. Al Capone or something. (Am I not selling this whole gender flip idea? Okay, I’ll stop.)

And then we can look forward to 2045, when the Marty in the remake of the remake of Back to the Future will get sent back to 2015. He will doubtlessly be baffled by our smartphones, high definition televisions, and old timey broadband internet. This remake needs to happen every 30 years, forever. It’s true that we may never produce a remake as good as the original, but I’m okay with that. I think we’d have a lot of fun trying.

61 Comments on “The Time Has Come to Remake Back to the Future”

  1. Ezra #

    Some good ideas here, and I too feel the time is now to get over whatever residual fear of remakes we might possess. Literally every movie should be up for grabs.

    The original script of BTTF did contain a backstory for Doc and Marty: they ran a VHS bootlegging operation together. Of course, how they met originally and went into that line of work remained a mystery.

     
  2. Brad #

    I’ve been thinking about a Back to the Future remake for a few months now, ever since I realized that the year BTTF 2 was set in was coming up. I’d be real interested to see if 1985 could be portrayed as foreign to a teenager from today as 1955 was to one from the 80s. I don’t think it would, but that’s probably just my “I lived in the 1980s and we weren’t THAT backward” bias.

     
    • Benjamin Ragheb #

      Could 1985 be portrayed as foreign?

      Your camera only takes about 30 pictures before it “fills up”, at which point you have to take a roll of film somewhere and wait a day or two before you can get your pictures. (Unless you have a Polaroid, which is like Instagram but with only one filter and if you share it with someone you don’t have it any more.)

      Your portable music player probably plays cassettes (the Discman is only a year old). If you want to choose what songs to put on a tape, you need a few hours to hit play and record on a second tape deck. Nobody knows what MP3 is.

      You probably go to arcades to play video games (NES introduced in October ’85). Nobody knows who Zelda is or what her Legend is about.

      Nobody knows what GPS is, unless they work for the Army (operational in 1994).

      Nobody sends text messages because nobody has mobile phones. If your group splits up while you’re at the mall you need to make plans to meet up later.

      Busy signals.

      Nobody sends email because most people don’t know that the Internet exists. The first web browser is ten years away.

      Need an apartment or a job? Buy a newspaper.

      Nobody understands your Simpsons quotes. There has only been one Star Trek TV show.

      Visiting New York City? There is no M&M Store in Times Square. That’s all I’m going to say about that.

       
      • frug #

        As I alluded to below, those issues (outside of the inability to instantly communicate with anyone at anytime) would only come into play if the filmmakers left our new protagonist in the past longer than Marty does, and I’m not sure how well that would work.

         
    • frug #

      Well, the clothing jokes would write themselves (seriously, is any decade’s fashion as easily mockable as the 80′s?) but I think the biggest issue would the inability to stay in constant contact with the people around you and gain access to information instantly.

      That said, I think you raise a decent point. You don’t see a lot of modern movies or TV shows set in the 80′s or hear people romanticizing it like they do/did the 50′s (there has never been a Happy Days, American Graffiti or Godfather for the 1980′s).

      Part of the problem, I think, is that the major differences outside of communication technology just wouldn’t have that big of an effect on someone who is only going to be there for a few days. Benjamin raises some decent points, but it’s unlikely someone who is devoting all their time to desperately trying to return home would have time to play videogames anyways.

       
      • JosephFM #

        Well, there is The Wedding Singer. And less memorably, Take Me Home Tonight.

        And The Perks of Being A Wallflower just came out, which IIRC from reading the book 10 years ago was set in the 80s? (Though maybe the movie isn’t.)

        The less said about That 80s Show, the better, though.

         
  3. Lemur #

    I will buy tickets for my whole family on opening day if Steve Buscemi is Doc.

     
    • JosephFM #

      Double if he sings Spandau Ballet again.

       
  4. Katy #

    It’s called Hot Tub Time Machine. :p

     
  5. Crystal #

    I don’t think most people object to remakes because they consider the old films sacred as much as they bemoan the lack of originality. Sure, we can remake anything. But why remake something instead of telling a new story (other than profit)? Without getting into whether or not anything is truly a new story or not.

     
    • Christian Hansen #

      Crystal beat me to it, but I also think that new IPs would be better than attempting another reboot. As a personal rule, I only think that a remake is a good idea/will probably work if the original film was bad/squandered potential (See the new Judge Dredd remake, or the 2001 Ocean’s 11 compared to the Rat Pack version).

      Ultimately I just don’t think it will be worth the risk to try and remake BTTF when most likely all we will end up with is an inferior product and a bunch of insulted fans.

      Can we at least wait until Hollywood has a net positive of good remakes/reboots before we start talking about remaking BTTF?

       
      • Luiz Mello #

        Another good reason to do remakes, as mentioned in the article, is when the original version, as awesome as it might be, is dated enough to stop connecting with newer audiences.

        As for risking an inferior product and insulted fans, that has never stopped the industry before!

         
        • Christian Hansen #

          And that line of thinking has given us Mark Wahlberg’s Planet of the Apes and Keanu Reeves’s The Day the Earth Stood Still!

          Now I don’t want to come across as cynical, but if Hollywood was remaking BTTF it certainly wouldn’t be for the chance to tell new stories(see above examples), but rather for the chance to bank on a beloved franchise. In terms of risk it is akin to betting your wedding ring in a game of Plinko.

          I’m just saying that if it’s worth doing, it’s worth doing it right.

           
  6. Redem #

    ““Kurt! Kurt, it’s me! Your cousin Marvin Cobain! You know that new sound you’re looking for? Well listen to this!” (Although since it’s 1985, it’s hard to imagine ANYTHING Marty could do in the song that would make everyone stop dancing and stare at him in shocked silence.)”

    Joke that was both done on the Simpsons and Family Guy

     
  7. Redem #

    Wait need to correct myself here

    While Family Guy did do “Cousin Marvin” joke the artist was Rick astley, but Simpsons did it with Kurt Cobain in a different context

     
    • Matthew Belinkie #

      Interesting! I definitely remember hearing that gag somewhere in the past, but I assumed it was a conversation with Mark Lee. I checked this out on Futurepedia’s list of pop culture references, and the only one they have was actually from That 90′s Show, when a Marvin Cobain does in fact call his cousin Kurt about a hot new sound. Doesn’t surprise me if other sitcoms have gone there too.

      If there’s a Back to the Future remake that has him going back to the early 2000s, he can start singing with a lot of autotuning, and the DJ calls his cousin T-Pain.

       
  8. Benjamin Ragheb #

    The crazy thing about going back to 1985 with an iPhone is that the Apple II was still a very popular personal computer and Macintosh was barely one year old at the time. Meanwhile, Microsoft wouldn’t release Windows 1.0 until November of that year (and pretty much nobody used it until Windows 3.0 was released five years after that).

    In other words, seeing that Apple logo on the back of this crazy futuristic iPhone would not be surprising at all, but would be extremely misleading to someone trying to guess what the 1990s will be like for Apple.

     
    • Sam #

      Except that “crazy futuristic iPhone” would be nothing more than a glorified walkman (and probably not even that) without the right satellites being in orbit etc.

       
      • Benjamin Ragheb #

        Sure, a lot of stuff wouldn’t work. But just five years ago one of the most compelling things you could do with the original iPhone was to simply swipe through a set of photos. That would still work. (What’s really crazy is how quickly we become blasé to new technology.)

        Besides, as a scientist, Doc could appreciate the device in spite of the missing infrastructure to demonstrate all that it can do. And nobody else would be seeing it, because paradoxes.

         
      • Matthew Belinkie #

        It would still have a ton of amazing apps. A plot point could be that Marty wants to save the battery for emergencies, but Doc accidentally drains it playing Angry Birds.

         
      • frug #

        A plot point could be that Marty wants to save the battery for emergencies

        Hate to sound snarky, but what emergency would an iPhone with no ability to make phone calls, access the internet or track locations be of use?

        Plus, I have to imagine a genius scientist like Doc could build a charger pretty easily. I mean he just need something to connect it to a wall outlet.

         
        • Lemur #

          Wait, did you guys have wall outlets in 1985?

           
          • frug #

            Well they had them by June (when I was born). Before then though…

             
  9. HtWP #

    Back to the Future works well because it was original, funny, and had pitch perfect casting. None of that would carry over to a remake.

    I like the idea of a time travel adventure/comedy staring a female protagonist (Ellen Page, or Emma Stone, maybe), but I think tying it to the already established characters and plot from BthF would be a mistake. You’d be robing the movie of a lot of its charm and undermining its ability to surprise its audience. Not to mention inviting a lot of comparisons that are bound to be unflattering.

     
    • Matthew Belinkie #

      I totally understand where you’re coming from, but for starters, I don’t think a remake can take away from the original. I may not like (or even watch) the new Karate Kid movie, but its existence doesn’t make me think the original is less great.

      I also think remakes can be plenty original. They recently remade Footloose, and they moved it to the deep South (the original was in Utah). This wildly changes the music and dancing, even though the basic plot is intact. It’s not a scene by scene rehash – it’s a new version.

      You seem to be coming from the perfectly respectable position that if you can’t top the original, you shouldn’t remake the movie. What I’m saying is that topping the original shouldn’t be your goal. Your goal should be to make a good movie that stands on its own two feet, and I think there are a bunch of wonderful variations on BTTF just waiting to be told.

       
      • HtWP #

        I agree that there are a lot of great remakes. Even some that are equal or inferior to the original, like Yojimbo/Fistful of Dollars or Seven Samurai/Magnificent Seven.

        My point is that in this specific case you aren’t gaining anything by remaking the original over just making a new movie. If you aren’t going to follow the same plot (which I believe is necessary to keep the movie from seeming to formulaic and predictable), and you’re going to radically change the characters (which between the gender swap, and simply modernizing the setting is also a given), then what are you really keeping? Time travel is a common enough plot devise that you don’t need to justify reusing it. I think you would have a better film if it was more a spiritual successor or even a sequel, than a straight remake.

         
        • Matthew Belinkie #

          Well, now we’re talking about a spectrum for remakes. It goes from Pycho (the version that was a shot by shot recreation) to movies that are really reboots (the new Spider-Man, Conan the Barbarian) and share only the most basic plot points.

          When I think about a Back to the Future remake, I am basically talking about this: “Marty, a modern teenager, is mistakenly sent back in time by an eccentric inventor. In the past, he must work with the younger version of that inventor to fix the time machine. In the meantime, he meets teenage versions of his parents, and prevents them from getting together. Marty must somehow help them to fall in love, or disappear from existence!” Any movie with that plot is a remake of Back to the Future in my book, even if a ton of the details are different.

           
          • HtWP #

            OK, I guess this is where we disagree. I’m not really interested in seeing “Marty the matchmaker” again. If there’s going to be another movie with the same tone and basic premise (kid goes back in time), I want the plot to be completely unique and surprising. If there’s going to be a movie with the same basic plot, I want a radically different tone (although I don’t think that would work well here). What I don’t want to see is the same story over again with only cosmetic differences and told by less talented film makers.

            Also, a lot of Back to the Future only works because it’s unexpected. We don’t expect Marty to get in the way of his parents’ romance, or for his mom to get a crush on him, so it’s funny. When we know where the plot is taking us, it doesn’t have the same charm or edge. It becomes much more formulaic and a lot less satisfying to watch.

             
  10. DeanMoriarty #

    I’d argue that P.T. Anderson’s last two movies are basically his versions of Citizen Kane.
    I’m not totally averse to remakes, but I do think, in general, movies — especially SF movies where the “idea” is such a big part of it– should be allowed to succeed or fail on their own merits.
    Also, I think a remake of BTF would be trying to hard to call back to the original, and we would miss the snapshot of how an era sees itself.

     
  11. Felipe Dex #

    Perhaps, the story could start with Marty’s son… he’s the right age in 2015… and then you could interwine with the original trilogy! That would be amazing!

     
    • Benjamin Ragheb #

      If you want to do something like that you have to reconcile the fact that BTTF’s 2015 isn’t anything like the real 2015. That’s not necessarily a problem, but now you’re making a movie about the Expanded BTTF Universe, instead of telling the story of a teenager of today observing his/her parents as teenagers. That’s the real appeal of a BTTF remake (to me).

       
      • Felipe Dex #

        I think the difference in the 2015s may be completely ignored… perhaps Marty Mcfly Sr. can have a line that says something like “Boy, when I was your age, we thought cars would be flying by now!”

        Perhaps Marty Sr did not become a musician, and went to college instead. But then Jr goes into the past and convinces him/change something and he goes to an audition. He becomes famous, goes into drugs and leaves his girlfriend (perhaps he even overdoses, which would be a good reference to Kobain without citing him by name), endangering Jrs existance.

        And the connection with the time machine? Perhaps in Marty Jr’s class there’s a boy named Jules! ;)

         
        • Matthew Belinkie #

          Oooh, I like it! But a side note about Jules and Verne: how old is Doc supposed to be in 1955? How old is he, at a minimum, at the end of Back to the Future 3, when he has those two fairly-old kids?

           
          • Felipe Dex #

            Must remember he won back “30 or 40 years of his life” in some wacko medical threatment “in the future”. (BTTF 2 does not especify at what year did Doc get such threatment). So you could say he’s as old in 85 as he is in 55.

            Either that or Marty Jr could meet Doc Jules Brown (in his 40s perhaps)…

             
  12. LeighH #

    As soon as I saw that Nic Cage picture in the article, I figured you were going to suggest him to play old Biff.

    One thing about a BTTF remake that would be kinda dicey is the the political commentary. BTTF was intended to parody 80s Republicans who were obsessed with returning to the glory days of the 50s by showing a more realistic vision of the 50s. For the remake, you’d have to show adults of the twenty-teens wistful for the zenith of Reagan’s America – and then show how the 80s weren’t quite what we remember. It could be done, I guess, but it would have to be quite subtle. I’m afraid the temptation would be to make the 80s of the film just like the Cafe 80s from BTTF2, which was a joke about how foolish retro revivals can be.

     
  13. Felipe Dex #

    There’s one thing I must say: a Brazilian movie called “O Homem do Futuro” (The Man of the Future) was released in Brazil last year. The main character is played by Wagner Moura (from Tropa de Elite). It’s truly a great movie about time traveling.

    The story happens in 2011, and he goes back to the 80s.

    The trailer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IEEE7qbmYUU
    (in portuguese, sorry)

    I found a couple links for torrents looking for “O homem do futuro english subtitles”. It’s worth watching…

    http://www.opensubtitles.org/en/subtitles/4451401/o-homem-do-futuro-en

    http://www.podnapisi.net/o-homem-do-futuro-2011-subtitles-p1481681

    (haven’t checked the links…)

     
  14. Sam #

    The hardest movie in the trilogy would be BTTF2. How do you portray the future when we already, essentially, live in it? We now realize that the future does not hold flying cars, inflating pizzas, or auto-drying clothes. Instead it holds ever smaller smarter phones. It MIGHT hold self-driving cars, but that would hardly serve the BTTF franchise very well. It certainly doesn’t involve casual fusion power. Doc might be able to rig the delorean up with solar panels, but more likely he’ll just rig it up with WiFi.

     
    • LeighH #

      Although it might not be appropriate for BttF2, I think there’s a lot of comedy to be found in a self-driven car chase taking place at 35mph.

       
      • Sean #

        I never thought of that – but you’re right. It would be quite funny.

         
      • Matthew Belinkie #

        And the joke can be that Marty is able to put his car into manual mode and actually DRIVE it. All the future teens are stuck yelling at their autopilots.

         
  15. Dimwit #

    I think it would suck and match a lot of these remakes. Built in failure.
    One of the keys to BTTF is recording technology and attitudes. The 50′s are lost in the deep mists of time for most because it’s not well recorded. Mostly Hollywood images and idealized TV. It was the bridge between rural prewar America and postwar urban expansion. Small town mores losing to big city attitudes. It’s why Marty can show up and be accepted because they’re being “neighborly”.

    Move him into the 80′s. Sure, the PC is just getting going but the schools are computerized. A self serve gas station is the same in 80′s as the 10′s. Big whoop. Unless he’s a total moron, what would he be ignorant of in the 80′s? He can easily grab any pop reference from Youtube and probably has. It’s not the same 30 years. Hell, radio today is the same damn songs as they played 30 years ago on the “Classic Rock” stations.

    They caught lightening in a bottle the first time. Leave it.

     
    • Benjamin Ragheb #

      I grant you that the cultural distance from 1985 to 2015 is not as visually striking as the distance from 1955 to 1985, but the 80s were a lot more different then you give credit for. And though YouTube makes it all accessible, I think you are overestimating how much interest a present-day teenager has in stuff from the ’80s.

      To paraphrase a friend of mine: “The key thing missing from all these dance club ’80s nights is a fear of imminent nuclear war.”

       
      • Dimwit #

        >>I grant you that the cultural distance from 1985 to 2015 is not as visually striking as the distance from 1955 to 1985,<<

        And that's a problem. The movie needs to be visually distinct per time period. Excepting the fashions and that's more a big city thing, there's little distinction between the recent ages.

        Marty would go from a suburb to a suburb. Twin Pine/Lone Pine Mall might go from a Big Box "Power Center" to a mall. The closed porn theatre would turn into a Walmart and the center of town would die but that's it.

        Remaking this thing should take far more thought and by the time you're finished you might as well have started fresh from the beginning.

         
  16. Macaco Malandro #

    Make a TV series loosely adpated from the movies.
    then no one else will complain.

     
  17. Ed #

    Why do people insist on always talking about remaking BACK TO THE FUTURE.

    IT CANNOT BE ACCOMPLISHED, for the shear fact that Spielberg’s Amblin Entertainment, the contracts between Universal Studios and creators Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale, that the studio CANNOT, I repeat, CANNOT remake, do a sequel, prequel, or any other type of filmed entity without the permission of Spielberg, Zemeckis and Gale.

    Zemeckis and Gale have both gone on record stating that this will NEVER HAPPEN. They’ve even stopped films like BE KIND, REWIND which was supposed to swede BACK TO THE FUTURE in it. This is the power of Amblin and Spielberg. IT WILL NEVER HAPPEN.

     
    • Matthew Belinkie #

      The article isn’t about what WILL happen, it’s about what SHOULD happen.

       
  18. Mym #

    Simple gender-flip solution: Marti has two moms. Shocking that they’d hook up in high school in 1985, riding the front of the progressive wave in 2000ish when Marti would be conceived. Raises the question of who the sperm donor would be (even if Marti doesn’t know and it becomes a plot point in a later movie).

     
  19. Sean #

    There is one thing that would make a BTTF remake work.

    Christopher Walken as Doc.

    enough said.

     
  20. doug galecawitz #

    outside of the realm of politics (where bad ideas can really hurt) this is the worst idea i’ve ever heard. rarely are remakes ever better than the original. stories may be technically retold but west side story IS NOT romeo and juliet. and the reason stories can be retold is that they often have a simple universal predicate. an integral part of what makes a movie great is it’s visual style. copy that and you have another case of vince vaughn in psycho. for every remake that equals or surpasses it’s original, there are actually hundreds which are wastes of celluloid.
    as for BTTF remakes, there are dozens of problems wrong with this. a numero uno being that as cultural memory goes the 1950′s are considered a time of innocence. Happy Days, American graffiti, the lyrics to American pie, et cetera, et cetera, all have fed this notion of the 1950′s as a time of innocence. whether or not this is true or not matters not in the least because that’s how it’s perceived by the majority of the people within our culture. conversely the 1980′s are not considered a time of innocence. (GG Allen anyone?) most of the humor within the BTTF universe relies on these opposing cultural perceptions. if no such diametric opposites is perceived than the thrust of the comedy has nothing to anchor it to. better to try to play it straight ala Primer.
    don’t even get me started why the character of doc would be really difficult to rework. all in all BAD IDEA!!!

     
  21. synbios #

    One thing everyone seems to be forgetting the key problem in remaking this story – the time vehicle’s fuel source. In the original it’s plutonium, which means they have to power the time vehicle with lightning in 1955. If you use plutonium again, they’re just going back to the time when they originally used plutonium anyway. If Doc gets the plutonium from terrorists again in 2015 then what’s to stop him just using the same method in 1985?

    Then there’s the car itself. Use a Delorean again? It’s hardly going to alarm people in 1985 seeing a car from 1981. If you change the car then what is there now that would look so futuristic to a person in 1985? The Delorean still turns heads now and still looks more futuristic than pretty much every car on modern roads.

    Then there’s the other modern technology Marty brings back. Iphones, internet devices, GPS etc wouldn’t work in 1985 – he’d be bringing back a peice of plastic and he’d just have to explain how it works. They’d essentially just be portable computers and I’ve seen enough films set in the ’80′s to know such devices arn’t that far fetched back then. They had computers, mobile phones existed in a way and there were portable gaming devices too. As for the surviving without a phone or GPS – that happens to me regularly when my phone battery dies anyway. You don’t need a time travel movie to tell that story as it’s me on a daily basis.

    Finally the music. In 1985 we have heavy metal, rap, hip hop, punk, RnB etc. What’s Marty going to do? Do an X-Factor dance routine at a heavy metal concert? They’d storm the stage and beat the crap out of him in 1985.

    One solution, though, is to remake it but instead of going to 1985, he simply goes back to 1955 again and meet his grandparents. It’s the only way it can be done. 1985 isn’t different enough to 2015 so it’s pointless trying to get a time travel film to work in a year where it won’t.

     
  22. Dom #

    > Johnny Depp, you are no Gene Wilder!

    Can I just point out that this is not a remake. Both the 1971 musical film Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory and the 2005 film Charlie and the Chocolate Factory are movies based on Roald Dahl’s 1964 book, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory. We can debate the merits or otherwise of aspects of both films in relation to the book and perhaps as reflections of each other, but the newer film is not based on the older one. I, personally, never liked the ’70s musical, although perhaps as a Brit I didn’t like that they made everyone American and changed things around (such as the Nut Room).

     
    • Matthew Belinkie #

      I see where you’re coming from, but I feel like it’s BASICALLY a remake. Certainly, Depp was doubtlessly going to be compared to Wilder – it’s the same character! There’s probably a more detailed OTI article to be written about the taxonomy of remakes: true remakes, reboots, reimaginings, etc.

      And not all remakes have the same level of fidelity. Horror movie remakes are often very similar. But the 1980s Scarface and the 1920s Scarface are radically different.

      Anyway, I think Charlie and the Chocolate Factory is close enough to a remake to count. I mean, Burton’s Planet of the Apes is technically an adaptation of the French novel and NOT the Charlton Heston movie… but I got to believe there were a lot of Heston impersonations on that set.