Familiar IP is everything these days, it seems. Studios will (somewhat begrudgingly) continue to churn out original properties, but their bread and butter is sequels, reboots, and remakes—and you can’t blame them. The top three films of the year so far at the box office are all sequels, with Jurassic World positively rolling in the dough as it breaks record after record. Movie tickets are expensive, and audiences are more likely to spend their money on something they’re already pretty sure they’ll like rather than take a chance on something unfamiliar. Every now and then they’ll take a chance, as original films like Spy and Inside Out have proven to be big hits, but even so those movies are tinged with familiarity—the Melissa McCarthy/Paul Feig duo for Spy, and the Pixar brand for Inside Out.
And with Jurassic World—a sequel in a franchise that hasn’t had a new movie in over a decade—being far and away the year’s biggest hit, studios are no doubt looking at their back catalogs to find properties for which folks have fond memories, and thus may be willing to turn out for a new film out of nostalgia and/or curiosity. Besides Jurassic Park, what’s another massively popular IP that has remained popular/lucrative decades after the film series ended? Well Back to the Future, of course.
We’ve been bracing for the inevitable Back to the Future remake/reboot for years now, but as it turns out, we may not have to suffer through that cash-grab for a long time. Robert Zemeckis, who directed all three Back to the Future films, recently revealed to The Guardian that the contracts he and co-writer Bob Gale made with Universal and Amblin Entertainment give them final say on the production of any Back to the Future-related films for as long as they live, and Zemeckis’ is not giving a new Back to the Future movie his blessing:
“That can’t happen until both Bob and I are dead. And then I’m sure they’ll do it, unless there’s a way our estates can stop it. I mean, to me, that’s outrageous. Especially since it’s a good movie. It’s like saying ‘Let’s remake Citizen Kane. Who are we going to get to play Kane?’ What folly, what insanity is that? Why would anyone do that?”
I don’t necessarily think that reboots or remakes retroactively ruin my enjoyment of the original film, but I’m nevertheless relieved to hear that Zemeckis and Gale are in the rare position of being able to stop a Back to the Future remake from happening. That trilogy was kind of a perfect storm (especially the first two), and the 80s-tinged aesthetic is part of its appeal. Can you imagine a remake that tried to update the story to modern day, or worse had Marty McFly going back in time to get his parents back together in the 1980s or 90s? Luckily we don’t have to think about that for a very long time.