The Back to the Future Trilogy Ended 30 Years Ago Today

The Back to the Future trilogy became history 30 years ago today with the release of Back to the Future Part III on May 25, 1990, ending the time-travelling misadventures of Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox) and Dr. Emmett Brown (Christopher Lloyd). Sequel to 1985's Back to the Future, where a plutonium-powered DeLorean time machine first sent McFly back in time to 1955, and 1989's Back to the Future Part II, where Doc and Marty travelled to 2015, Back to the Future Part III sends Marty to Hill Valley, 1885, to rescue a time-stranded Doc before he can be killed by Buford "Mad Dog" Tannen (Thomas F. Wilson).

The threequel from writer-producer Bob Gale and director Robert Zemeckis lassoed $244 million at the global box office to become the sixth highest-grossing film of 1990, less than the $389 million of the first film — the top movie of 1985 — and the $335 million of the second film, which finished in third place in 1989 behind Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade and Batman. The sequels were filmed back-to-back and fulfilled Fox's desire to travel to the Old West.

"As much as Back to the Future appeals to the kid in everyone, I think being a cowboy appeals to the kid in everyone," Fox said in a past interview included in The Making of Back to the Future Part III. "I remember when there was talk of a sequel, and [Zemeckis and Gale] said to me, 'If you were gonna go somewhere, where would you want to go?' I said, 'The Old West. Everybody wants to be a cowboy.' And they're like, 'Yeah, yeah, yeah! We do, too.'"

The trilogy ends with Marty, returned to 1985 with future-wife Jennifer (Elisabeth Shue), witnessing the destruction of the DeLorean on train tracks where a flying steam locomotive appears with the time-traveling Brown family: Doc, wife Clara (Mary Steenburgen), their two boys, and dog Einstein, the first time traveler.

"Your future hasn't been written yet. No one's has," Doc says, powering up the locomotive's flux capacitor. "Your future is whatever you make it, so make it a good one." When Marty asks if he's going back to the future, Doc says, "Nope! Already been there."

Sequel comic book Back to the Future: Tales from the Time Train, scripted by Gale and John Barber, was released by IDW Publishing in 2017 and answered where and when the Browns travelled after the line that ended the film series.

Three decades after Part III, Zemeckis and Gale again ruled out going back for a Back to the Future Part IV.

"Well, it would have to be that Doc and Marty find out that we're thinking about making another Back to the Future movie," Gale quipped when asked about ideas for a fourth movie during a recent virtual cast reunion ahead of the 35th anniversary of the original Back to the Future. "They come back to stop us from doing such a crazy thing."


Added Zemeckis, "If I had an idea that I could have pitched to Bob with a straight face, we would have made it." Zemeckis previously declared there will "never" be a fourth movie, saying in 2018, "There will be no more Back to the Future."

Universal Pictures will release the Back to the Future trilogy for the first time on 4K Ultra HD Blu-ray later this year.

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