In an age of legacy sequels and fourth films of much-loved trilogies, the creators of Back to the Future, Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis, have always been adamant that there won’t be a fourth movie to ruin your childhood. Instead, the pair behind Marty McFly and Doc Brown’s time travelling adventures have sought to keep their fans happy by exploring the franchise through different mediums. There was the animated show, the theme park ride, the video games, the film in concert, the comic books and now the official stage musical. But Great Scott there’s always more to come.
On Back to the Future Day this year, an annual celebration Gale highlights no other movie has been given the honour of, it was announced that the musical would be set to open on Broadway in 2023.
The West End’s Doc Brown star Roger Bart and George McFly actor Hugh Coles will be reprising their roles in the Olivier Award-winning theatrical production at the Winter Garden Theatre in New York, with previews from June 30 next year. Bringing the story back home to the US, the co-creator of the film franchise and musical hopes Michael J Fox and cast members like Lea Thompson will finally be coming out to see it.
Gale enthused of the upcoming Broadway run: “The stage is pretty much the same size and the wings are a little bit bigger which is good for storing more stuff.”
Yet he doesn’t want to stop there, with dreams of opening Back to the Future the musical in other countries around the world so that it can run for years.
The 71-year-old gatekeeper of the franchise said: “It truly is an international title. It appeals to all cultures, all ages and it’s a family show that doesn’t feel like a family show if you know what I mean. It isn’t Disney-fied. It’s a human story, the power is the relationship between Marty and Doc and the relationship between George and Lorraine and Biff.”
He also plans on adapting his show for school productions too, adding: “We’ll figure out how to do it for schools. It may take me some time to figure it out when there’s some improved technology five years from now.” But what about a movie version of the musical?
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Gale has shared how well over a decade ago he was inspired to start work on Back to the Future the musical after seeing The Producers on Broadway.
Mel Brooks’ musical adaptation of his movie of the same name was so good he made a film version of it starring Nathan Lane and Matthew Broderick, who played the main characters on stage. So could the same happen for Back to the Future?
Gale said: “I kinda doubt it. I think if people want to see a movie of Back to the Future, there’s already a really good movie called Back to the Future. We think that the stage show belongs on stage and the movie belongs in the cinema and that’s why the theatrical production is not a slavish adaptation of the movie.” Nevertheless, he has further plans for his franchise.
What’s next in Back to the Future’s future then? Right now the focus is the musical, but Gale has some other ideas up his sleeve.
Firstly, he praised Secret Cinema’s immersive take on the film and is open to them doing it again, saying: “That was so much fun. They did such a wonderful job with that. So it’s possible. Something like that or a virtual reality Hill Valley. Those are things that we could see as another way to keep the franchise way.” Back to the Future in VR? We had to ask more.
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Gale shared how he was put in touch with someone who had created the world of Back to the Future in VR for him to try out.
He said: “I put the goggles on and I was walking around the town square of Hill Valley in 2015. It wasn’t detailed yet but I could go into Cafe ’80s, all the decor was on the walls, and I could walk out and walk around the courthouse pond. I could see that as an immersive environment as a way of continuing Back to the Future-ness without upsetting the core trilogy of the movies. I can see it being used with that kind of technology.”
The producer and writer also shared that he’d consider an open-world video game of the movies where you can drive the DeLorean around, time travelling back and forth through time.
Gale said how he loved what LEGO Dimensions did with the Back to the Future characters and highlighted how an open-world game like Playstation 3’s LA Noire could work.
He said of playing that video game: “It was really cool as someone lives in LA to drive down these streets and to see the intersections as I know them but in the 1940s. That is a really cool way to do time travel in a video game.”
For him, it really comes down to where technology goes in the coming years and how that opens up more ways for fans to enjoy the franchise. But one thing’s for certain, we’re not getting a reboot or sequel movie.
Gale told us: “When people say I want to see Back to the Future 4, I think what they’re really saying is, ‘I want to see something that makes me feel the same way I felt when I first saw Back to the Future.’” And that’s what he believes the musical has done and will continue to do.
Back to the Future the Musical is playing at the Adelphi Theatre in London and tickets can be booked here.