Back to the Future nearly had a terrible title

It was completely different and absolutely awful.

Christopher Lloyd and Michael J Fox in Back to the Future
88 mph Christopher Lloyd and Michael J Fox in Back to the Future. Image Picture Universal

Back to the Future might be more than 30 years old, but it’s one of those indisputable film classics that still holds up to this day.

Because of that, any kind of cool trivia that emerges gets pounced on by fans faster than a DeLorean striving to hit 88 mph.

The latest morsel of new information has emerged via film producer Will McCrabb, and it’s to do with the debate surrounding the film’s title.

Back in 1984, Universal Pictures president Sidney Sheinberg fired off a memo to Back to the Future producer Steven Spielberg and filmmakers Bob Zemeckis and Bob Gale suggesting that the title of the film be changed to Space Man from Pluto.

“I continue to believe the title leaves much to be desired. There are a number of reasons why I found the title less than ‘wonderful;’ but my primary concern is that it appears to make the picture a ‘genre’ picture,” wrote Sheinberg.

“I think the script (and, hopefully, the film) deserves a better title… I am sure there will be those who will argue that the movie will appear to the audience to be a cheap, old-fashioned sci-fi flick. Nonsense! I think it’s a kind of title that has ‘heat, originality and projects fun.'”

Had this gone through film fans would’ve been robbed of one of the great 80s movie titles and the iconic Doc Brown line “next Saturday night, we’re sending you back… to the future!”.

Rumour has it that Spielberg – keen to preserve the BTTF title – sent back a reply to Sheinberg playing off his suggestion as a joke. The we-all-had-a-good-laugh-thanks-for-that response meant Sheinberg was too proud to admit he’d had a bad idea.

Of course, his title does originate from a key moment in the film. When Marty McFly first travels back to 1955 he’s mistaken for an alien from a kid’s comic book called Space Man from Pluto.

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Loaded digital media manager Simon Reynolds has written about film and entertainment for various leading websites since 2008. Follow Simon at @simonreyn