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Burbank goes ‘Back’ one more time

Parking lot and street used for scene in “Back to the Future”

The Burger King restaurant on the 500 block of N. Victory Blvd. is being renovated on Tuesday, October 13, 2015. A scene from the movie “Back to the Future” was filmed in the driveway, with Marty McFly grabbing the back of a pick up truck while riding a skateboard.

(Raul Roa / Staff Photographer)

When Marty McFly traveled 30 years into the future at the end of “Back to the Future,” he would arrive, in the sequel, just before 4:30 p.m. on Oct. 21, 2015 — a world where they famously wouldn’t need roads and where skateboards didn’t need wheels. That date is now just a week away.

At the beginning of the original 1985 film, McFly — played by Michael J. Fox — starts off right here in Burbank at Doc Brown’s lab next to the Burger King at 545 North Victory Blvd. Late for school, the skateboarding McFly grabs onto the back of a pickup truck pulling out of the restaurant’s drive-thru for a little extra speed.

Thirty years later, we don’t have hover boards or even Nikes with the power laces the film trilogy imagined, and the flying car hasn’t really taken off like expected. But, Burbank still has the Burger King, one of several locations in Southern California a group of “Back to the Future” fans and enthusiasts plan to visit next week to celebrate the film’s 30th anniversary this year.

The restaurant was damaged in a grease fire in late August. It’s undergoing repairs and will reopen soon, the company said via email this week, though an exact date has not yet been determined. That won’t deter the fans, according to Ken Kapalowski, who is organizing the fan celebration “We’re Going Back 2015.”

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“Yes, they had a grease fire and should be ready to open soon,” Kapalowski said Monday in an email. “Either way we will be there with the original manager that was on site back in the ‘80s during filming.”

While the town in the film is known as Hill Valley, and much of it is filmed on a back lot at Universal Studios where much of the fan celebration will take place, the Burger King restaurant happens to be one of two locations in Burbank.

A bit later in the film, McFly and his band, The Pinheads, perform Huey Lewis’s “The Power of Love” in the gym at McCambridge Recreation Center. A character played by Lewis interrupts to tell them they’re “just too darn loud.”

Mike Graceffo, recreation coordinator at the Verdugo Recreation Center, said he was working for the city at the time the movie scene was filmed, and though he wasn’t at McCambridge, “I distinctly remember when they did film that.”

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“It’s always neat” when something is filmed in the city, Graceffo said, but growing up and living in Burbank, “you sort of get used to it in a way.”

The fans organized a 25th anniversary celebration in Burbank in November 2010 using the recreation center as one of its locations. Recreation Supervisor Jenny Griffin said she remembers working with the event organizers back then, many of them Canadians who traveled to California for the event.

“The coolest thing was they brought all the DeLoreans,” she said, referring to the gull-winged, stainless steel sports car model upon which Doc Brown built his time machine.

And while fans prepare to celebrate the film yet again, one of the sequel’s predictions for the future — a Chicago Cubs World Series win — may yet come true. The Cubs defeated the St. Louis Cardinals to win the National League Division Series Tuesday. They advance to the National League Championships, the winner of which will play in the World Series.


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