Back to The Future: The Ride Concept Art

Back to the Future: The Ride Concept Art

Most of this feature has been dedicated to the original 1985 Back to the Future film, but more than half the book is devoted to the sequels, the animated series, the theme park ride and more. There is so much good stuff in this book, there is no way to properly highlight it all here. But I’m a big fan of the Universal Studios theme park ride (sadly, replaced in the domestic parks with The Simpsons ride), so I wanted to feature this piece of concept art created by Greg MacGillivray for the original ride proposal.

Apparently in the spring of 1988, the Universal team led by Peter Alexander and producer Phil Hettema set up a prototype of the ride in a decommissioned Omnimax theater to sell the idea to the studio. The prototype even has a vehicle on a motion base.

MacGillivray was hired to direct the ride because of his experience working on IMAX films. He shot a short demo film with special effects artist Richard Edlund (Star Wars, Indiana Jones) which was apparently awful. The original idea was more like flying through the world of the Back to the Future films, and Bob Gale (who wasn’t officially involved in the ride) was appalled, calling it “absolutely terrible.” Aside from the concept not working, the initial test films were making riders sick. Universal eventually hired Douglas Trumbull to direct a new version of the story and invent a motion control rig which would fix the rider sickness issues.

The Original Cafe 80’s Concept Art

Okay, so these pieces of Cafe 80’s concept art might not be mind-blowing, but they are just cool. It’s interesting to see how the idea for a futuristic ’50s-style cafe evolved into what it turned out to be in the film. Ed Eyth did the sketch, while John Bell did the colored versions to the right. According to the book, the idea for the Cafe 80’s came from director Robert Zemeckis, but I’ve heard writer Bob Gale talk many times about how he envisioned that the people of 2015 would be nostalgic for an era 30 years earlier.

Apparently the exercise bikes in the cafe came from an earlier draft where the safe was attached to a health club (remember, Lou’s Cafe turned into Lou’s Aerobic Fitness Center by the year 1985, so the idea was a bit of a mash-up). In the original draft, Griff and Marty (posing as his son) were engaged in the futuristic sport of slamball (described as a mash-up of handball and jai alai) in an antigravity chamber. However, the sequence was considered too costly and time-consuming and was cut from the script.

This book talks to almost everyone involved in the Back to the Future series. They even have quotes from Elijah Wood, who had his screen debut as “Video Arcade Boy 1” in this sequence.

Back to the Future: The Ultimate Visual History is one of the best behind the scenes books ever published (if you are a fan of the series, you should buy it right now), and not just because of all the images. Klastorin goes through all the events of development and filming in chronological order, giving you in-depth accounts of everything from almost everyone involved in the series.

On top of that, it also gives fans a lot of extra added value through inserted pullout material like prop replicas of the Save the Clock Tower flyer, Doc Brown’s Flux Capacitor drawing, a recreation of the Jaws 19 poster that was hanging in the 2015 Hill Valley movie theater window, and this super cool lenticular photo that shows you Marty McFly’s brother and sister disappear. I Instagrammed a video of it a few weeks back:

Got gifted this cool photo #backtothefuture #bttf2015

A video posted by Peter Sciretta (@slashfilm) on

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