If you were sitting on your couch enduring the awful MTV Movie Awards pre-show tonight, then you probably heard them mention a fire at Universal Studios near where the Awards were being held. It seems this was much more than a simple grease fire, and a lot more was threatened than MTV’s night of vapid product placement. In fact, the AP reports that this was a “large fire” which tore through the Universal back lot, and destroyed what to any movie buff is without a doubt hallowed ground. Back to the Future’s iconic Hill Valley courthouse square is no more, as is one of the King Kong exhibits.
Not only was the Hill Valley set burned to a crisp, but Universal lost a stunning 40,000 to 50,000 archived videos, including copies of every film Universal has ever made and classic television shows like Miami Vice and I Love Lucy. Hold on, don’t panic. They have backup copies stored elsewhere.
But they don’t have a backup of the Back to the Future courthouse, the clock tower once climbed by Doc Brown in the middle of a lightning storm as part of a desperate bid to send Marty McFly back to the future. They don’t have a backup copy of the courthouse where Biff Tannen’s grandson and his gang of hover board thugs were defeated by Marty McFly, thus protecting his future son from extended jail time. It was the square where Marty first appeared, dazed and confused in his futuristic life vest, the place where he kissed Jennifer after beating the clock to return home from the past.
Update! A little more information on the Back to the Future set. This isn't the first time it caught fire, in fact in the 90s the original Courthouse Square set was burned down and had to be rebuilt. The difference this time though, is that back then, the one thing that did survive unscathed was the Clock Tower itself. This time, the Clock Tower was indeed damaged. However, it may not be as bad as it seems. There are conflicting reports on this. Most sources seem to be saying pretty clearly that the Clock Tower was utterly destroyed. However, the guys over at SlashFilm claim they were able to work magic and get hold of a Universal rep, on a Sunday no less, who told them that the Clock Tower was only minorly damaged and was indeed still standing. Hopefully we'll get some clarification on this by Monday. The destruction of the Courthouse Square set would be bad enough, but to lose that iconic clock tower would be absolutely devastating. Let's hope for the best folks.
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