July 1985 – “Whoa... Rock 'n' Roll”
Shooting on BTTF wrapped on 20 April, 1985 after an impressive 100 days in front of cameras. With the release date set for August of that year (shoved back from its original May release), the race began to get the movie ready in time.
When a rough cut was put together, test screenings reaped a staggeringly positive response. The pressure was really on, though, when a test for executive Sheinberg was held at the supposedly cursed Hitchcock Theatre, which had never held a positive test screening.
Instead, the roof was nearly blown off the building, and Sheinberg approached Gale with a request: he wanted the movie in cinemas in July, not August.
In response, Zemeckis and his team got to work furiously editing material. Two editors were drafted in for the film, while sound editors often worked around the clock.
“The movie was in theatres nine and a half weeks after we wrapped principal photography,” marvels Gale “It was that close.
“We had two editors and we all knew what we were trying to do, and of course the movie was being cut all the time, while Bob was shooting it, so he’d go into the editing room on weekends and work with the editors on different sequences. That’s how tight it was, but we pulled it off.”
Opening on 3 July, 1985, BTTF soared straight to the top of the box office, where it stayed for a mammoth 11 weeks. It achieved the fourth highest opening weekend of 1985, and went on to make the most money of the entire year, taking $210m in North America, and $170m across the globe.
Paired with the swooning reviews and excellent word of mouth, BTTF was an undeniable hit. Event President Ronal Regan was a fan, who cited the film in one of his speeches: “Never has there been a more exciting time to be alive, a time of rousing wonder and heroic achievement. As they said in the film Back To The Future, ‘Where we're going, we don't need roads.’”
But the praise didn’t stop there. Numerous Awards bodies nominated the film for trophies across the board, with the Hugos and the British Academy Film Awards both nominating the flick for Best Film, screenplay, editing and visual effects gongs.
At the Golden Globes, the film was nominated for Best Motion Picture, original song (‘The Power Of Love’), Best Screenplay and Best Actor.