Back To The Future's Original Ending And Opening Revealed, And They Are Completely Different

Co-writer Bob Gale reveals the vastly different plans for how the film was going to open and end.


Back to the Future co-writer Bob Gale has shared some new insight on the iconic film's original ending and opening scenes. The famous and memorable ending to Back to the Future, where Doc Brown makes a last-ditch effort to power up the clock tower to help Marty get back to the future, was almost completely different. Writer Bob Gale told Collider that he and writer-director Robert Zemeckis had originally wrote an ending that involved a refrigerator time machine and blowing up a city. And that's not all--Gale also revealed the original opening to Back to the Future did not involve Doc Brown's laboratory at all.

Here is Gale talking about the original ending:

“The idea [was] that the DeLorean was nuclear powered, literally they needed to harness nuclear energy to send the time machine back to the future. Bob [Zemeckis] and I had seen The Atomic Café documentary, a movie called The Atomic Kid which we pay homage to on the marquee of the town theater in 1955--one of the most perverse movies ever made… We were obsessed with the idea of, ‘Hey wouldn’t it be cool if we could recreate one of these towns and blow it up?’ So we wrote this elaborate sequence in and in the original version, the time machine was built into a refrigerator which was a time chamber. And that was where Marty was gonna be when the nuclear blast went off.”

They ended up scrapping these scenes due to, you guessed it, budget cuts. The studio asked for $1 million in cuts, and it was determined that the idea of building an entire town (only to blow it up) was a good place to save the money. The clock tower sequence was shot at a comparatively less expensive backlot.

"Over a weekend we spent time walking around on the backlot going back and forth to our offices, and we came up with the whole clock tower sequence," Gale said.

Their original idea for Back to the Future's ending didn't get completely lost in time, however, as Gale pointed out that Back to the Future producer Steven Spielberg was inspired by it for the Indiana Jones movie Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. In that film, Indiana Jones survives a nuclear blast inside a refrigerator.

As for the original opening, Gale said the studio asked for additional budget cuts after they parted ways with the first Marty actor, Eric Stolz, and replaced him with Michael J. Fox. Due to this, they scrapped plans for al elaborate opening scene showing Marty in detention and setting off fire sprinklers to escape. This scene involved a lot of logistics, and the set wasn't even finished, so the production team decided to go with the opening we all know and love with the long tracking shot showing Doc Brown's laboratory.

Back to the Future is coming back soon with a 4K trilogy that releases on October 21. Included in the package are a series of special features, one of which shows Ben Stiller's audition tape for Marty.

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