On this weekend, the 18th anniversary of Back to the Future Part III‘s debut in theaters just as Indiana Jones embarks on a new hunt in nearly the same amount of time for crystal skulls and boxoffice gold, I’m reminded of what Writer/Producer Bob Gale told a crowd of more than 350 fans last month attending a rare Back to the Future screening and cast reunion about the chances for another Future.
Gale had been in town last month participating in the 5th Annual Celebration Exotic Car Festival benefiting the Make-A-Wish Foundation of Central and North Florida. On Saturday, April 19, he joined actors Christopher Lloyd, Claudia Wells and Jeffrey Weissman on stage in a 50-minute Inside the Actors Studio-type discussion and audience Q&A session preceding a special screening of Back to the Future which was sponsored by BTTF.com.
During the audience Q&A which preceeded the highly anticipated digital screening, Gale immediately addressed the inevitable question to start off the event. “Let me answer one question before anyone asks it, which is, ‘Is there ever be a Back to the Future Part IV?'”, Gale began, before answering, “No.”
Following an immediate stream of groans and obvious displeasure from the audience regarding his answer, Gale quickly offered an acceptable explaination his position.
“Well now, wait a minute now. We’ve all seen sometimes where they make one too many sequels and you say, ‘Maybe they shouldn’t have done that.’ I’m not going to name any names of movies, but you know what they are!,” quipped Gale.
“But more importantly, as I’m sure you all know, Michael J. Fox is not in the best of shape with his Parkinson’s,” he went on to explain. “The idea of making another Back to the Future movie without Michael J. Fox — you know, that’s like saying ‘I’m going to cook you a steak dinner and I’m going to hold the beef.’ You can’t do that.”
“The filmmakers – we all love the three Back to the Future movies just the way they are,” added Gale. “I’m sure Universal would love it if we were to say to them, ‘Hey, let’s do another one,’ but we don’t think we could ever make a fourth one that would live up to how great the first three are, so we’re going to leave well enough alone.”
The answer, which every audience member already knew in their hearts, seemed to appease the crowd that day. Still, fans contact BTTF.com every single day from all over the world wanting to know if another film will ever happen. While Paramount finds themselves rolling in what Tom Wilson once called “Sequel Dough”, projecting a $151 million domestic five-day cumulative opening for the fourth Indiana Jones film, highly-creative fan-made teasers for Back to the Future 4 are starting to make their way onto YouTube in hopes of attracting the attention of the powers-that-be at Universal to somehow find a way to make another chapter in this beloved film series:
After seeing Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull on opening day, I couldn’t help but think “What if?” for myself, especially after noticing some very familiar filmed & unfilmed BTTF sequences from earlier script drafts contained in Indy 4, such as the nuclear test site scene with the lead-lined refridgerator and the brawl in the ’50s diner. Regardless, I found Indiana Jones 4 to be a very worthy sequel, and a very enjoyable two-hour visit with a character I have come to appreciate for nearly three decades. I mean, why not Back to the Future 4?!
Sharing my enthusiasm for Spielberg’s latest sequel with Bob Gale via email (whom at the time hadn’t yet seen the film himself), he backed up his earlier statements in Florida last month about making a fourth Back to the Future film. “What you’re saying about it proves that making a BTTF movie without MJFox would be insane!”, Gale refuted.
I agreed, stating that Back to the Future 4 without Michael J. Fox would probably feel a lot like Back to the Future…The Ride — quite enjoyable, but still lacking a key component nevertheless. Fox’s omission would be immediately obvious as it was in …The Ride, but still, I’ve always thought it could still be quite an enjoyable romp through time as long as Christopher Lloyd was at the core of a cleverly written story.
But now as I look back at how much I really enjoyed the new Indiana Jones sequel, I for one, simply cannot fathom George Lucas’ recent statements to Fox News that he has an idea for a fifth Indiana Jones movie. “I have an idea to make Shia the lead character next time and have Harrison come back like Sean Connery did in the last movie,” Lucas shamelessly admitted. Indiana Jones without Harrison Ford as the lead?! No thanks, George. Now I get Bob’s point. Back to the Future 4 without Michael J. Fox in the lead role would be exactly like Indiana Jones 5 without Harrison Ford in the lead role, and honestly, who wants to see that?!