Why Back To The Future Would Flop Today, According To Robert Zemeckis

It’s impossible to know how films of yesteryear would fare in the harsh climate of modern moviemaking. Would audiences find The Godfather too long, 2001 too vague, or Singin’ In The Rain too optimistic? Thankfully, we’ll never know. Well, that’s unless you’re Robert Zemeckis, who is adamant that if he tried to make Back To The Future today, it wouldn’t even be greenlit.

Robert Zemeckis, who co-wrote Back To The Future with Bob Gale and directed the time-traveling, sci-fi classic, made this admission to Yahoo Movies after being asked how he thought it would fare. Zemeckis insisted:

Sadly, I don’t think anyone would make that film today. I don’t think the audience would understand it or have the interest in seeing that movie. I mean a lot of people would but it would never become the number one box office hit of the year.

Robert Zemeckis, who is currently doing the publicity rounds to promote The Walk, believes that Back To The Future would ultimately struggle because studios simply wouldn’t know how to market it today. Rather than being an outright comedy, sci-fi, or period film, Back To The Future actually flirts with a number of genres, which is what helped to make it so utterly timeless and appealing.

Unfortunately though, for these exact reasons, Zemeckis is adamant that Back to the Future would simply flounder in today’s cinematic battleground. He continued:

I think that what’s happened is that films have fallen into slots or categories. One of the things that’s unique about Back to The Future is that back in the days when we had video rental stores they never knew what shelf to put it. They didn’t know if it was a comedy or should be in the science fiction section or the period movie section. They didn’t know where to put it and that’s what makes it unique and what gives it such longevity.

Unfortunately, Robert Zemeckis believes that the studios faith in making these sort of movies has all but evaporated, mostly because audiences are so indecisive about watching a film that "they don’t already know exactly what it’s going to be ahead of time."

Zemeckis is currently feeling the brunt of this with The Walk, which tells the amazing, true story of Philippe Petit’s wire walk across the Twin Towers in New York City back in 1974. Not only did it take the iconic director, who as well as directing the Back To The Future trilogy won an Oscar for overseeing Forrest Gump, ten years to get The Walk funded and into production, but it’s only grossed $13.5 million at the box office, despite having an 86% rating on Rotten Tomatoes.

Which could mean that Robert Zemeckis might have to turn to a sequel of one of his old films for his next project. And since either Cast Away 2 or Flight 2 would be absurd, it would probably have to be Back To The Future 4. Of course, I’m only joking, but simply just writing that title made me both immeasurably happy and wary at the same time.

Gregory Wakeman