Michael J. Fox and director Robert Zemeckis will reunite later this month to begin filming two sequels of their 1985 hit "Back to the Future."
Universal Pictures' unusual plan to produce the two films back to back is intended to keep production costs down and to take advantage of an extended break in Fox's schedule. Fox is currently wrapping up the seventh and final season of NBC's "Family Ties," and he will work simultaneously on the TV show and the first sequel when the film goes into production Feb. 20.
Universal plans to release the new films in the winter of 1989 and the summer of 1990, respectively. Though Zemeckis, who was honored this week with a Director's Guild of America Award nomination for "Who Framed Roger Rabbit," would not reveal any plot details, both films are expected to involve time travel and some elaborate production effects.
In a telephone interview Friday, Zemeckis said the "two movies would have average scale budgets for big movies," but he declined to give any exact dollar figures.
"You never know how the audience will respond to these characters again," Zemeckis said, when asked whether the premise and characters of the first film would remain fresh and attractive through two additional installments. "We feel close to these characters, and we didn't want other people to do the sequel. We didn't want to see our material tampered with."
The sequels are reuniting virtually all of the key production people and cast members from the original film. They will be produced under the banner of Steven Spielberg's Amblin Entertainment and Spielberg will again serve as executive producer; Zemeckis and his long-time writing collaborator Bob Gale are teaming up again on the scripts; and Gale and Neil Canton, co-producers of "Back to the Future," will co-produce Parts 2 and 3.