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Is There Going to Be a Back to the Future 4? Here's What Creators, Stars Have Said
Don't let all those fake Back to the Future 4 trailers and posters online fool you.
Back to the Future is having another big pop culture moment. Thanks to the ongoing rise of Back to the Future: The Musical, and the upcoming 40th anniversary of the original film, it feels like we're talking about Marty McFly and Doc Brown more than we have in quite some time. That means that, once again, online chatter about a potential Back to the Future Part 4 has emerged.
Do a quick search and you'll no doubt find rumors floating around that a fourth film is in the works, along with fake posters and trailers designed to make it look like an inevitable revival of the franchise starring Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd. It's certainly an exciting idea for longtime fans, but how true are those rumors? Is Back to the Future 4 an actual possibility, and would the original trilogy's creators dare sign on for such an endeavor? Let's take a closer look at where the key players stand.
What Michael J. Fox Said About a New Back to the Future Sequel
Since he's the face of the franchise, let's talk about Fox first. The star of all three Back to the Future films is retired from the acting world and has been for some time now, focusing instead on spending time with his family and continuing his advocacy for Parkinson's Disease research. Earlier in 2023, though, Fox made the publicity rounds again to promote his documentary Still: A Michael J. Fox Movie, which meant the issue of a fourth film and/or reboot of the original story was bound to come up.
"I don’t think it needs to be [rebooted or revived]," Fox told Variety back in May. "I think Bob and Bob [director and co-writer Robert Zemeckis and co-writer Bob Gale] have been really smart about that. I don’t think it needs rebooting because are you going to clarify something? You’re going to find a better way to tell the story? I doubt it."
Still, Fox did acknowledge that he "got paid already" and noted he was "not fanatical" about preserving the original films. For him, he did the job and moved on, and isn't necessarily actively opposed to someone stepping in after him.
What Christopher Lloyd Said About a New Back to the Future Sequel
While Fox is uninterested in a reboot and also ambivalent about the possibility of the franchise continuing without him, his co-star Lloyd is a bit more open to the idea that a new story could come along. Over the years, Lloyd –– whose reprised the role of Doc Brown in animation, video games, and even TV commercials over the years –– has embraced the possibility of playing Doc again, though he's also made it very clear that for a fourth film to work, the story would have to really nail things.
“I would love to do a sequel, but I think Bob Zemeckis and [producer Steven] Spielberg felt that they told the story in the three episodes,” Lloyd told Variety in May. “But if somebody has a brilliant idea that would justify a fourth film it might happen.”
Bob Gale's Comments
Writer Bob Gale has, like Lloyd, continued to embrace the legacy of the franchise he helped create, lending his creative oversight to the new musical along the way. But that doesn't mean he's ready to make a fourth movie. In fact, he's pretty firmly opposed to it. Here's what he told Variety at a red carpet event for the musical back in July:
“People say, ‘Why don’t you guys do Back to the Future Part 4?’ When they say that, they’re saying, ‘I want something that makes me feel as good as the original did.’ That’s what this is," Gale said. "That’s the feeling you’re going to get here when you see this show. There’s no need to go back to that well. You’ve seen too many people go back too many times. As I’ve said many times, the characters in Back to the Future are my family, my children. You don’t sell your kids into prostitution.”
So, that's pretty definitive.
Robert Zemeckis' Comments
Speaking of definitive, director Robert Zemeckis is also pretty adamant that he's not interested in returning for a fourth film in any capacity. Back in 2018, after Lloyd expressed an interest in returning to the franchise for the right story, Zemeckis told Italian entertainment site Bad Taste that there will "never" be a Back to the Future 4, which means that the two principals creators of the series are a united front in terms of staving off any reboots or revivals.
But Could It Still Happen?
Of the four biggest players in the Back to the Future saga, only one of them seems truly interested in coming back to the story, and the two guys most likely to make a new film happen, Zemeckis and Gale, are outright opposed to the idea. So, does that mean it will never happen?
Not necessarily. Zemeckis and Gale can only exert their influence for so long, after all, and the Hollywood IP machine just keeps churning. Back in 2020, Tom Holland even hinted that he'd been approached about playing Marty in a potential reboot film, suggesting that someone, somewhere in the studio machine, is looking at the possibility. That's certainly a long way from saying anything will happen, but if we've learned anything from this age of reboots and requels, it's that we should never say never.
Back to the Future: The Ultimate Trilogy is available now from Universal Pictures Home Entertainment.
After a successful run in London's West End that earned plenty of acclaim, Back to the Future: The Musical is ready to take over Broadway. Tickets are on sale now.