There will "never" be a Back to the Future Part IV, says trilogy director Robert Zemeckis.
Speaking to Italian site Bad Taste after franchise star Christopher Lloyd said he's open to returning as Doc Brown in either another Back to the Future sequel or a reboot, Zemeckis shot down the idea: "There will never, ever be, in the most absolutely way, a Back to the Future 4," he said. "There will be no more Back to the Future."
Lloyd told the Phoenix New Times he would be "delighted" to return to the time travel-centric franchise if Zemeckis and screenwriter Bob Gale "could come up with the right idea that extends the story and does it as well as the first three."
"I think, really, the most important thing is if they can come up with the right idea. I think that's the challenge is to come up with something that really is as good as the originals," Lloyd said. "I suppose it could happen. I have not heard that they're looking for that, if they've made up their minds... 'hey, here's something we could do,' and they believed in it then they might get going to do it."
Thomas F. Wilson, who played bully Biff Tannen and his brutish relatives across the three-movie series, has long described Back to the Future IV as "not happening" in his famous 'The Question Song,' originally conceived to answer the oft-repeated inquiries the singing comedian is asked about the trilogy.
During a 2008 question and answer session at Celebration, Florida, Gale initiated the question-asking by saying, "Let me answer one question before anyone asks it, which is, 'Is there ever be a Back to the Future Part IV?' No."
"We've all seen sometimes where they make one too many sequels and you say, 'Maybe they shouldn't have done that,'" he explained. "I'm not going to name any names of movies, but you know what they are!"
Gale further ruled out the possibility because Michael J. Fox, who played the lead role of frazzled teen Marty McFly, now lives with Parkinson's disease.
"But more importantly, as I'm sure you all know, Michael J. Fox is not in the best of shape with his Parkinson's," Gale said. "The idea of making another Back to the Future movie without Michael J. Fox — you know, that's like saying 'I'm going to cook you a steak dinner and I'm going to hold the beef.' You can't do that."
"I'm sure Universal would love it if we were to say to them, 'Hey, let's do another one,'" he added, "but we don't think we could ever make a fourth one that would live up to how great the first three are, so we're going to leave well enough alone."
Gale reiterated those comments to the Back to the Future website in 2010, saying he and Zemeckis "have no plans or desires to make another Back to the Future movie — not a Part 4, or a remake of Part 1."
"Nor does Universal or [producers] Amblin [Entertainment] have any such plans," Gale explained. "How do we know? Because, per our contracts with these companies, no Back to the Future sequel or remake can even be scripted without discussing it with us first. No such discussions have taken place. We are very proud of the trilogy as it stands and we want to leave it as is."
In 2015, during the 30th anniversary of the 1985 original, Zemeckis said a Back to the Future remake "can't happen until both Bob and I are dead."
"And then I'm sure they'll do it, unless there's a way our estates can stop it," he told The Telegraph. "I mean, to me, [a remake is] outrageous. Especially since it's a good movie. It's like saying 'Let's remake Citizen Kane. Who are we going to get to play Kane?' What folly, what insanity is that? Why would anyone do that?"
The trilogy has lived on through theme park rides, an animated series, comic books, video games, and most recently in the Steven Spielberg-directed Ready Player One, where the famed DeLorean was one of many pop culture icons included in the virtual reality world of the Oasis.