Entertainment & Arts

Hoverboards, almanacs and more: A guided tour of ‘Back to the Future’s’ props with Bob Gale

Writer and producer of ‘Back to the Future’ Bob Gale

Bob Gale, writer and producer of “Back to the Future,” stands in front of the movie’s famous clock tower with the official prop hoverboard from the film. 

(Myung J. Chun / Los Angeles Times)

In the shadow of the clock tower on the Universal lot, “Back to the Future” writer and producer Bob Gale (the man who came up with the whole paradox) took us through his personal collection of authentic “Back to the Future” and “Back to the Future II” props.

Spilling details on the hoverboard (and how it worked), flipping through the almanac and charting out the vast multiverses that could have been in the newspapers made for the trilogy, here’s our video exploration of the artifacts from “Back to the Future.”

The disappearing McFlys picture 

Bob Gale, co-writer of the “Back to the Future” trilogy, shows the original photographs that showed Marty McFly slowly disappearing.

“If you think about it too much, it really doesn’t make any sense,” Gale explained. “Because you say, ‘Well, wait a minute, if Marty is disappearing from the photo, who is going to take a picture of an empty wishing well?’ Little piece of movie trivia that is at Amblin Entertainment, that well." 

Where’s the hoverboard?

Bob Gale, co-writer of the “Back to the Future” trilogy, shows the hoverboards used in the movie.

Yes, Gale has been on a real hoverboard, but they wouldn’t give him one for free. Which seems a little sacrilegious. Plus two, count them, two, different hoverboards used in “Back to the Future II." 


“Back to the Future” newspapers possibly predicting the future 

Bob Gale, co-writer of the “Back to the Future” trilogy, shows the various newspapers featured in the movies.

The many different papers created for “Back to the Future II” were actually intricately detailed and planned out with additional news stories beyond the famous headlines. Each story projected the society it was created in, even the evil 1985 Biff Tannen alternate reality in which Biff controls the world. Gale explained: “We’re still in Vietnam in this warped version of 1985... ‘Hill Valley Pollution Alert’ because Biff has polluted the whole place, and one of my favorites here, ‘Tannen Birth Place Declared National Monument.’” Confirming the fact that Marty and Doc weren’t just meddling with their own timelines, but with the entire history of the world. 

Grays Sports Almanac

Bob Gale, co-writer of the “Back to the Future” trilogy, takes us behind the scenes with a look at the sports almanac that Biff Tannen used to amass a fortune.

“One of the things that nobody really paid much attention to, this is 50 years of sports statistics... it’s kind of a thin book to cover that much,” Gale points out. 

 Alternate ‘Back to the Future’ reality 

Bob Gale, co-writer of the “Back to the Future” trilogy, shows souvenir pins with the planned release date and the actual release date.

The “Back to the Future” movie actually has an alternate reality “Back to the Future” that never was. "In the first pass of the ‘Back to the Future’ logo it was blue,” Gale said. “And the original release date was going to be July the 19th. So Universal had a whole ton of these buttons printed up and they started distributing them. And then we had this very successful sneak preview, and the president of the studio, Sid Sheinberg, saw the movie and said ‘I want this movie in theaters for the 4th of July weekend, and however much money it’s going to cost, I’ll write the check.’ So we said OK, Syd, if you want to pay for it, we will get it into theaters. We changed the logo. I believe Steven [Spielberg] was the instigator, saying it will look better if it’s hotter. It will feel more exciting than cool blue, a hot red, hot orange.”

The “Back to the Future” 30th anniversary trilogy is available on Blu-Ray and DVD.

Kick it to 88 miles per hour and head to our enormous “Back to the Future” collection. 


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