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Back to the Future is a 1985 American science fiction film directed by Robert Zemeckis. Written by Zemeckis and Bob Gale, it stars Michael J. Fox, Christopher Lloyd, Lea Thompson, Crispin Glover, and Thomas F. Wilson. Set in 1985, Fox portrays Marty McFly, a teenager accidentally sent back to 1955 in a time-traveling DeLorean automobile built by his eccentric scientist friend Doctor Emmett “Doc” Brown. Trapped in the past, Marty inadvertently prevents his future parents’ meeting—threatening his very existence—and is forced to reconcile the pair and somehow get back to the future.
The outline of Back to the Future originated in 1980 after Gale found his father’s school yearbook; he wondered if he and his father would have been friends as youths. Gale and Zemeckis realized that time travel could answer the question. Desperate for a successful film after numerous collaborative failures, they pitched their script, but over 40 studios rejected it. It was not considered raunchy enough to compete with the successful comedies of the era. Following his success directing Romancing the Stone (1984), Zemeckis secured a development deal at Amblin Entertainment for Back to the Future. Fox was the first choice to portray Marty, but his working schedule prevented his involvement; Eric Stoltz was cast instead. Shortly after commencing principal photography in November 1984, Zemeckis determined that Stoltz was not right for the part and made the concessions necessary to hire Fox. This included re-filming scenes already shot with Stoltz and adding $4 million to the budget. Back to the Future was filmed in and around California and on sets at Universal Studios.
Re-casting Stoltz delayed production and pushed back the film’s release date. Following highly successful test screenings, the date was moved forward to July 3, 1985, to give Back to the Future more time in theaters. This resulted in a limited post-production schedule for editing and special effects; some effects were incomplete on release. Back to the Future was a critical and commercial success, earning $381.1 million to become the highest-grossing film of 1985 worldwide. Critics praised the story, comedy, and the cast—particularly Fox, Lloyd, Thompson, and Glover. It received multiple award nominations and won an Academy Award, Saturn Awards, and a Hugo Award. Its theme song, “The Power of Love” by Huey Lewis and the News was a significant success globally, and also earned an Academy Award nomination.