|Back to the Future Part II|
|Directed by||Robert Zemeckis|
|Produced by|| Steven Spielberg|
|Written by|| Robert Zemeckis,|
|Starring|| Michael J. Fox,|
Thomas F. Wilson
|Music by||Alan Silvestri|
|Distributed by||Universal Pictures|
|Release date(s)||November 22, 1989|
|Running time||108 min.|
|Preceded by||Back to the Future|
|Followed by||Back to the Future Part III|
- "Getting back was only the beginning."
- —Tagline for the film
Back to the Future Part II is a 1989 film and is the second part of the Back to the Future trilogy. It is the sequel to the first movie in the trilogy, Back to the Future. It was directed by Robert Zemeckis and written by Zemeckis and Bob Gale. This movie and the third part of the trilogy, Back to the Future Part III, were filmed simultaneously and released six months apart.
Off to 2015
Picking up the story where Back to the Future left off the morning of October 26, 1985 , Marty McFly and Doc Brown leave Marty's house and time travel to the year 2015 to stop Marty's kids from destroying their lives. Since Jennifer has seen the DeLorean time machine and Doc decides that the matter concerns her as well, they take her along and depart; however, Biff Tannen also accidentally witnessed their departure. They arrive on October 21, 2015 where Doc is forced to tranquilize Jennifer because she asks too many questions about the future; the Doc's firm belief is that no one should be allowed to know too much about their own destiny or future.
Doc lands the DeLorean in an alley adjacent to the Courthouse Square. Doc and Marty take Jennifer out of the DeLorean and lay her to the side as she is still sleeping and as to not get in the way of the mission. Doc then explains the chain of events that led to the McFly's downfall and tells Marty the plan on how they will stop it from happening. Originally, Marty Junior is approached by Griff Tannen, Biff's grandson, and his gang and is asked to join in a robbery. The robbery is foiled and Marty Jr. takes the fall. His sister Marlene McFly will later attempt to break him out of jail, only to cause further acrimony for the McFly family. Doc's plan is for Marty to impersonate his son and to tell Griff he will not join in. Marty follows the plan, even though it is almost messed up when Marty Jr. unexpectedly comes into the Cafe 80's. The gang gets angry and chases after Marty, much like the chase in 1955 involving Biff.
Using a hoverboard, Marty manages to escape the gang, and as a result, they crash into the courthouse and end up in jail, preventing the robbery; Old Biff was watching and commented that this chase is similar to what he experienced in 1955. After changing the timeline, and remembering a conversation with the elderly Biff speaking about "Marty Sr." as the one who flushed his life down the toilet, Marty decides to buy the Grays Sports Almanac 1950-2000, which he finds in an antique store selling all sorts of memorabilia from the 20th Century. Marty sees the almanac as a way to make a little extra money and possibly keep his life from going to the toilet, but Doc catches him and puts it in the trash, berating Marty that he did not build a time machine for such trivialities as making money (even though in the first movie, Doc mentions that going to the future would allow him to "see who wins the next 25 World Series", although this did not imply Doc was a gambler and merely wanted to see the winners for curiosity's sake). The Biff of 2015 overhears the conversation and takes the almanac out of the trash.
Just as Doc and Marty are about to get Jennifer, two police officers find her still tranquilized, and based on her thumbprint conclude that she must be the 2015 Jennifer. The officers proceed to take Jennifer home and Doc and Marty must follow. Doc fears that if Jennifer runs into her future self, there are two possibilities. Either she faints from shock or a paradox results in upsetting the time-space continuum and destroy the entire universe. When Jennifer gets inside the home, she gets scared and hides in a closet. Later, she moves to a bathroom where she sees that her family life is far from ideal. The Marty of 2015 gets a phone call from his colleague Needles, who goads him into cooperating in a profitable, but illegal, scheme. Marty agrees when Needles calls him "chicken", however, their boss at CusCo, Ito T. Fujitsu ("The Jitz"), has been listening in, and Marty is summarily fired. "The Jitz" fires Marty by sending a fax to him, bearing the words YOU'RE FIRED!!!, one of which is taken by Jennifer. Doc finally finds Jennifer and tries to sneak her out of the house. Unfortunately, Jennifer sees her future self and both faint from shock. While Doc is rescuing Jennifer and Marty goes walking about looking at his future residence,
The Biff of 2015 has stolen the DeLorean and travels to some point in time (On the time circuits, the previous destination was reading: November 12, 1955, 6:38 p.m.). Just before Marty and Doc return with Jennifer, Biff suddenly clutches his chest in pain when exiting the DeLorean (a deleted scene showed him vanishing). He also accidentally breaks off the head of his cane and leaves it in the DeLorean. Doc then decides that when they return to 1985, he is going to destroy the time machine, believing that it has only caused disaster and misfortune.
Returning to 1985, Marty and Doc quickly realize that their time has been mysteriously altered. Hill Valley is now a dilapidated, crime-infested, corrupt hell-on-earth with the courthouse now turned into a casino hotel, attached to which is the Biff Tannen Museum (where a sign out front informs visitors "Smoking Required"). Biff has become a rich and powerful man, and is now married to Marty's mother, Lorraine, who is physically abused, an alcoholic and had major plastic surgery because Biff demanded her to enlarge her breasts. Doc has been committed to an insane asylum and Marty's father George was murdered in 1973. Doc finds Marty at his father's grave at Oak Park cemetery and brings him to his abandoned lab to explain things. He theorizes that somewhere in the past, the timeline has diverged into an alternate reality. He then shows the bag the Sports book came in along with its receipt and old Biff's fist-shaped cane handle, sitting in the DeLorean, revealing that old Biff had given the book to himself sometime in the past, thus changing his future. At first, Marty suggests that they go back to the future to stop old Biff from stealing the time machine. Doc immediately shoots down that plan, for if they were to do that, then they'd only be going to the future of this reality. Therefore, Marty confronts Biff to find out when and where he got the almanac, which turns out to be on November 12, 1955, the same date that Marty traveled back to 1985. Biff also tells Marty that he was warned that "a crazy wild-eyed scientist or a kid" will ask about the almanac. Biff pulls a pistol out of his desk drawer and attempts to kill Marty.
After Marty got chased to the rooftop of the hotel, Biff reveals that it was he who killed his father. Marty, pretending to be exasperated, "jumps" from the roof. Doc in the (hovering) DeLorean catches him and kills Biff out with the car door. Doc & Marty depart to 1955, leaving Jennifer and Einstein in the alternate present, much to Marty's protest.
Back to 1955
The two of them go back to 1955. Doc advises Marty to wait until Biff of 2015 gives his younger self the almanac so that he can go back to the future with the time machine. Marty, operating incognito, jumps into the back of Biff's car and witnesses the event where the Biff of 2015 gives the teenage Biff the sports almanac. Marty unfortunately becomes trapped in Biff's garage and must remain there until Doc can free him or Biff returns for his car.
Just as Doc arrives at the Tannens' house, Biff gets into his car to go to the Enchantment Under the Sea dance. At the dance, Marty continually tries to obtain the almanac. He follows Mr. Strickland, who had confiscated the almanac and after stealthily obtaining the almanac, he discovers that Biff had actually swapped the cover with an Ooh-La-La magazine. He then spots his father George knocking out Biff. Marty then snags the almanac from Biff. Just as he radios Doc to pick him up, he runs into Biff's cronies, who mistake him for "Calvin Klein." They chase Marty backstage where he is able to stop them from attacking his earlier self by dropping sandbags on them, knocking them out cold. However, in a confrontation with Biff where he calls Marty a "chicken", Marty gets knocked out when he is hit by the door as his earlier self leaves to meet with the 1955 Doc at the clock tower, and Biff gets the almanac back. Eventually, Biff drives off in his newly cleaned car, and Doc and Marty follow him in the DeLorean. Hanging onto the side of the car with the aid of the hoverboard, Marty finally grabs the almanac and is rescued by Doc from being run over by furious Biff's car and Biff crashes into a truck full of manure again. As the rainstorm from the end of the first film begins, Marty burns the almanac to cinders, thus repairing the future.
As revealed earlier in the film, Doc accidentally turns on the time circuits while taking off, which were malfunctioning and flashing the "Destination Time" as January 1, 1885. As Doc attempts to land the DeLorean, the car is suddenly struck by lightning, activating the flux capacitor and sending him back to the year 1885. A few seconds later, a Western Union delivery man appears with a letter. The letter was given to Western Union with the explicit instructions to deliver it to Marty "at this exact location, at this exact minute, November 12, 1955". Marty tears open the letter to find out it is in fact from Doc, who is trapped in 1885. Marty rushes off to find the 1955 Doc, who has just succeeded in sending the other Marty back to 1985. Upon seeing that Marty has returned from the future, Doc exclaims "Great Scott!", faints, the words "TO BE CONCLUDED..." appear and then the screen fades out. Finally the screen fades in again and a short trailer for Back to the Future Part III is shown, with the last frame of the trailer showing the Part III logo and underneath it, the words "COMING SUMMER 1990".
In scenes deleted from the film, Biff Tannen of 2015 fades out of existence (much like Marty was in the original movie when interfering with his parents' meeting) once arriving in the future, having been erased from existence in that time period. This can be explained for two different reasons. First, these events created a time paradox. Having created an alternate timeline by giving his younger self the almanac, the old Biff from 2015 no longer existed, once 2015A became part of the 1985A timeline. Another possibility is that Lorraine, in 1996 of the alternate timeline, shot and killed Biff. These events are never depicted in the trilogy, although Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale suggest this theory as a way of explaining Biff's "disappearance."
The scene is notable in that Biff started to fade out as Marty and Doc Brown flew off in the DeLorean and only disappeared completely after the sound of the "time burst" is heard. Presumably, had Marty and/or Doc discovered Biff's cane head in the time machine, which Biff broke off when he exited the car, they could have aborted the trip to 1985 and restored the timeline. Had this occurred, Biff would have faded back into existence, much as Marty did in Part I, after his father kissed his mother.
While exploring 1985A's run down Hill Valley, Marty encounters the High School which is fenced off and in ruins, following the fire mentioned by the 1985A equivalent of Principal Strickland. The 1989 novelization reinstates this scene.
While in 1985A's run down Courthouse Square, Marty encounters the 1985A version of his brother Dave; a drunk and ramshackle bum. According to the DVD commentary by producers Gale and Neil Canton, the scene was deleted because Wendie Jo Sperber, who played Marty's sister in the first film, was pregnant at the time and thus could not be featured in the sequel; they felt that if Marty's brother was seen, people would wonder what happened to his sister as well. The scene did appear, however, in the novelization.
Prior to the DVD release of the movie, the Old Biif's fading and the burning down of the High School was shown on The Secrets of the Back to the Future Trilogy (which also was included in the DVD release of the trilogy).
Back to the Future Part II earned $27 million in its first weekend of U.S. release (November 22, 1989) and $118 million total US gross – $332 million worldwide. However, this was still short of the first film's gross, and the film experienced a drop of over 50% in its second weekend, a steep figure at the time. The same fate occurred in Part III, which came out only six months later. On December 17, 2002 Universal Studios released all three movies in a three disc DVD and three tape VHS boxed set which sold extremely well when it was released.
Home Video Release History
- December 25, 1989 (VHS & Laserdisc)
- March 18, 1990 (VHS & Laserdisc)
- July 4, 1991 (VHS, Compact Disc & Laserdisc)
- December 8, 1991 (VHS, Compact Disc & Laserdisc)
- March 23, 1995 (VHS, Compact Disc & Laserdisc)
- June 7, 1998 (VHS, Compact Disc & Laserdisc - The Last Release of CD & Laserdisc)
- May 12, 1999 (DVD with Lucasfilm THX)
- July 9, 2000 (VHS & DVD with Lucasfilm THX)
- March 15, 2002 (VHS & DVD)
- May 7, 2006 (VHS & DVD)
- 2009 (DVD)
- October 26, 2010 (25th anniversary Blu-ray & DVD)
- Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly, Marty McFly Jr. and Marlene McFly
- Christopher Lloyd as Dr. Emmett L. Brown (aka Doc Brown)
- Lea Thompson as Lorraine Baines (McFly/Tannen)
- Thomas F. Wilson as Biff Tannen and Griff Tannen
- Elisabeth Shue as Jennifer Parker (McFly)
- James Tolkan as Mr. Strickland
- Jeffrey Weissman and Crispin Glover (BTTF1 footage) as George McFly
- Billy Zane as Match
- Casey Siemaszko as 3-D
- J.J. Cohen as Skinhead
The characters of George McFly and Jennifer Parker were played by actors different from those of the original film, requiring that some previous scenes be reshot.
Replacement of Crispin Glover
As Bob Gale states in the DVD commentary, actor Crispin Glover was asked to reprise the role of George McFly in this film. Glover indicated interest, but demanded a salary the producers felt was unreasonable – as well as having script approval. Glover reportedly refused to budge, so he was dropped from the picture. Glover later insisted in a 1992 interview on the Howard Stern Show that he and Zemeckis had had some "creative disagreements" over the character, and felt that the director simply wanted an actor who was more pliable. He also said that the salary offered was "really low" (reportedly around $50,000), and that he was certain they never really wanted him back.
As a result, the filmmakers found inventive ways of avoiding showing the character's face in the movie, despite the fact that George McFly was in certain key scenes and has dialog lines. During all scenes in which the George McFly character appears in both this film and
- , he is played by Jeffrey Weissman and seen wearing sunglasses, from the back, upside-down, or out of focus in the background. This was to prevent audiences from realizing that George McFly was played by a different actor. However, producers also reused footage from the original Back to the Future that included Crispin Glover's portrayal of George McFly, listing him in the movie's closing credits as 'George McFly in footage from Back to the Future'. Glover sued Universal for compensation, on grounds that his contract for the first film did not allow subsequent uses of his portrayal of George McFly in new films, and that the footage had been used without his permission and without his receiving any payment. The day before the lawsuit went before a judge, Universal quietly settled the case, paying the actor an undisclosed sum. Glover would not reveal the amount during his Howard Stern Show appearance, but did suggest the real reason for the settlement was that Universal was reluctant to "open up their accounting books to the public" during the trial. The Screen Actors Guild later rewrote their rules regarding the derivative use of actors' works in films or TV series, requiring the studios and networks to give appropriate payment and credit to the actors.
Replacement of Claudia Wells
Claudia Wells, who had played Marty McFly's girlfriend "Jennifer" in Back to the Future, reportedly had personal problems and opted to drop out of acting in 1987. The producers reluctantly cast Elisabeth Shue for the part, which required reshooting the closing scenes of Back to the Future for the beginning of Back to the Future Part II. A comparison of both films reveals that Shue appears to be considerably older than Wells (and slightly taller than Michael J Fox).
It was more than a decade before Claudia Wells returned to Hollywood, with a starring role in the 1996 independent film Still Waters Burn. She is one of the few actors not to make an appearance during the 2002 "behind the scenes" documentaries on the Back to the Future Trilogy documentaries on DVD, though she does provide the voice of Jennifer in Back to the Future: The Game.
Rumors and urban legends
During an interview, director Robert Zemeckis jokingly said that the hoverboards (flying skateboards) used in the movie were real. A surprising number of people thought he was telling the truth and requested them at toy stores. After the release of Part III, Zemeckis had the opportunity to explain in another interview that all of the flying scenes were accomplished by suspending the boards using wires.
There was even a high demand for the Nike Sportshoes Marty wears with automatic shoe-laces, which fans also thought to be real. An inspired fan named Blake Bevin patented auto-lacing in 2010, with Nike buying the patent in August of the same year. Though Nike is releasing their similar-looking MAG line of sneakers in 2011, they do not yet auto-lace.
After the Florida Marlins beat the Cleveland Indians in the 1997 World Series, a rumor began to circulate that the movie predicted the Series' result; however, this was not the case. No mention is made of Florida winning the World Series at all, and the only mention of a Florida-based team is in a news broadcast which announces that the National League Chicago Cubs beat an American League "Miami" team with an alligator logo (not a marlin) in the 2015 World Series (a joke at the Cubs' expense; they had not, and still have not, won the World Series since 1908). The rumors started yet again in 2003 when the Marlins defeated the Cubs in the NLCS. However, it still proves little, since both teams are in the National League and not the World Series, which the Marlins won against the New York Yankees.
The Cubs' opponent was referred to only as "Miami" because there was no Major League Baseball team in Florida at the time of the movie's filming. Instead, the movie was predicting that a team (most likely in the American League) would be in place there by 2015. The prediction was made because of persistent talk of the relocation or expansion of a team to Florida at the time (which was also part of the plot for the 1988 film Major League.) Since then, two expansion teams have been placed in Florida: the National League's Florida Marlins (1993), which as of 2012, will be known as the Miami Marlins, further supporting the rumor; and the American League's Tampa Bay Devil Rays (1998), now known as the Rays as of 2008.
The movie won a Saturn Award for Best Special Effects for Ken Ralston (the special effects supervisor), a BAFTA Film Award for Ken Ralston, an internet-voted 2003 AOL Movies DVD Premiere Award for the trilogy DVDs, a Golden Screen, and a Young Artist Award. It was nominated in 1990 for an Academy Award for Visual Effects.
Most visual effects nominations were due to the development of a new computer-controlled camera system, called VistaGlide, which was invented specifically for this movie — it enables one actor to play two or even three characters in the same scene while the boundary between the sections of the split screen and the camera itself can be moving.
- The original script for Back to the Future Part II had Marty and Doc Brown go back to 1967 instead of 1955, had Mr. Fusion destroyed, with Marty and Doc Brown having to fly the DeLorean over the Grand Canyon. (See the original draft in External Links). The producers had the idea in mind because the first film showed the 1950s, the time they wanted to show the 60s and "have the audience see the hippies and the lava lamps". This idea was scrapped when it was realized it was too expensive to build a fifth set.
- Universal Studio's 100th anniversary is in the year 2015, the same year Marty and Doc visit in the beginning of the film, although this is just is a coincidence.
- The Back to the Future Theme is heard eight times in this film, two more times than its predecessor and two more times than its successor.
- Back to the Future Part II was shot under the working title "Paradox". This was done to try to lessen the amount of publicity.
- Some of the footage for the opening title cloud scenes were created by Industrial Light & Magic for the 1982 Clint Eastwood film Firefox.
- Many of the cars that appear in the future scene are modified for the film or concept cars. Examples include Ford Probe, Ford Mustang, Saab EV-1, Citroën DS, Pontiac Banshee Concept, Pontiac Fiero, Volkswagen Beetle and Griff's BMW 633CSi. Also appearing is the StarCar from the 1984 film The Last Starfighter, and many vehicles were also used in the 1982 classic Blade Runner.
- When Marty demonstrates the "Wild Gunman" machine, the boy in the red shirt watching is future The Lord of the Rings star Elijah Wood, making his acting debut.
- In this film, George McFly is portrayed by an actor ten years older than that of the original. (Since Jeffrey Weissman is six years older than Crispin Glover, and this movie was made four years after the original).
- In the alternate 1985, the newspaper that had the story about Doc being declared insane had an article titled "Nixon to Seek Fifth Term; Vows End to Vietnam War by 1985." When the original 1985 was restored, Doc was featured as being commended (instead of committed) and the Nixon article was changed to "Reagan to Seek Second Term; No Republican Challengers Expected." This was a reference to Alan Moore's acclaimed comic book series, Watchmen, which is also set in an alternate October 1985; however, in that story the Vietnam War ended in 1971. In reality, Ronald Reagan won his second term in 1984.
- When the DeLorean is struck by lightning and sent backwards in time, flames in the shape of a backwards number 99 appear in the sky. This is the same fire trails that appear when the time machine disappears at every occurrence of time travel. The reason for the twin loops in the sky is the DeLorean doing a backflip in the air due to the power of the strike.
- The film ends with a "trailer" for Back to the Future Part III because Zemeckis was so frustrated with the cliffhanger ending of The Empire Strikes Back that he wanted to let the audience know the story would complete in six months, not three years later. The Tagline Coming Summer 1990 was removed from the VHS release and the 2002 DVD release, but on the recent 2010 DVD/Blu-Ray release, it was retained.
- As Bob Gale mentions in the audio commentary, he said that the trailer appearing to advertise Back to the Future Part III was taken from the device used to advertise The Four Musketeers within The Three Musketeers.
- On December 12, 2008, Marty McFly's Hoverboard was sold at an auction between $30,000 and $50,000.
- The sports scores Biff hears on the radio are actual scores from that day. 
- When going back to 1955, the time circuits flicker to 1885 for a second, which is where "Doc" is sent when struck by lightning and where Marty goes in Back to the Future Part 3
- When the Marty from the first film's chain of events is playing "Johnny B. Goode" at the dance, he sings the first few lines of the lyrics for the song, then plays different sounding notes from what he originally did in the first movie.
- Technically, just taking the almanac from Biff and not letting him get it back, should've caused the present to revert into what it originally was at the beginning of the film, there was no reason for Marty to burn it, though Doc could've just wanted to be thorough that the present revert to what it was, or he didn't want Marty to get tempted to use it if they went back and he let Marty keep it, as he stated that the almanac shouldn't be in a time before it was published, as someone who has it, could win at betting on all of the events in it.
- In the Part 3 'trailer,' the part where Doc says, "Just try it, Tannen," is either different, or trimmed out of the final cut of the last movie.
Several video games based on the movies were released. See Back to the Future video games for a list.
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- ↑ FAQs about the trilogy (2002/2009 Back to the Future Part III DVD, 2010 DVD set Bonus Disc)
- ↑ http://www.zidz.com/script_comment2.php
- ↑ http://www.imcdb.org/movie_96874-Back-to-the-future-Part-II.html
- ↑ http://www.cbsnews.com/elements/2008/07/26/entertainment/photoessay4296728_0_11_photo.shtml
- Official Universal Pictures site
- BTTF Frequently Asked Questions written by Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis
- Back to the Future Part II at the Internet Movie Database
- - Back To The Future - French website A big website !
- Scripts: original draft, Feb. 8, 1989 version
- Back to the Future Part II Theatrical Trailer (YouTube)
- Back to the Future Part II at VidTaggr - Regularly updated trivia and information viewed in real-time with the movie.
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