Hilarious Notes on Modern Classics From Clueless Studio Executives

Back to the Future

Robert Zemeckis’s 1985 time travel comedy is one of our favorite ‘80s movies, but the director and his co-writer Bob Gale had a hell of a time getting a studio to believe in it. They started shopping it around clear back in 1981; at that time, it was a change of pace for Zemeckis, best known for the ribald R-rated comedy Used Cars. Columbia Pictures (again!) was initially interested, but thought it was (get this) too wholesome. “They thought it was a really nice, cute, warm film, but not sexual enough,” Gale would later say, recalling that when the studio put it into turnaround, they suggested shopping it to Disney. The Mouse House, unsurprisingly, had the opposite reaction: “They told us that a mother falling in love with her son was not appropriate for a family film under the Disney banner.” So one studio wants it sexier; the other wants it squeakier. Ultimately, the pair just had to wait it out. After Zemeckis’s Romancing the Stone was a monster hit in 1984, he was able to make whatever he wanted, and Back to the Future was set up at Universal, which presumably found their sex porridge “just right” in this particular Goldilocks scenario.