Is Robert Zemeckis a Hypocrite For His Feelings On a Back to the Future Redo?

By  · Published on June 30th, 2015

There are some quotes from Robert Zemeckis going around today that will put a lot of Back to the Future fans at ease. “That can’t happen until both Bob and I are dead,” he told The Telegraph when asked if the filmmaker would ever let a remake of the ’80s time-travel classic to be remade. “And then I’m sure they’ll do it, unless there’s a way our estates can stop it.”

The Bob is screenwriter Bob Gale, who along with Zemeckis has contractual final word on anything regarding the Back to the Future property. And whether you want them or not, more sequels are not likely to happen in their lifetime, either, as /Film reminds us of a statement from Gale back in 2008, when he flat out said there would never be a Back to the Future Part IV, adding, “We’ve all seen sometimes where they make one too many sequels and you say, ‘Maybe they shouldn’t have done that.’”

While I can be happy about his integrity with his work, including his additionally expressed disappointment that a Romancing the Stone redo is currently in development (unlike BTTF, he has “no power over that”), and the relief that I’ll never see a half-assed reboot of the adventures of Marty McFly, I can’t help but think he’s being pretty hypocritical. After all, his next two features, The Walk and Marwencol, are themselves remakes.

And they certainly aren’t his first. While his directorial work until recently has primarily involved original material or the relatively innocent adaptation of a book – the latter including Beowulf and A Christmas Story, each of which had seen many cinematic translations beforehand – as a producer he remade the William Castle horror films House on Haunted Hill and 13 Ghosts as well as the already once-remade Mystery of the Wax Museum (taking the first remake’s title of House of Wax) and the rom-com Last Holiday.

Perhaps he considers all those original versions to be lesser works worthy of being remade? About the BTTF remake possibility, he said, “To me, that’s outrageous. Especially since it’s a good movie. It’s like saying ‘Let’s remake Citizen Kane. Who are we going to get to play Kane?’ What folly, what insanity is that? Why would anyone do that?”

And perhaps he would dismiss the hypocrisy regarding retelling documentary stories, such as those in Man on Wire and Marwencol, to be fair game because docs and dramatic movies are so different that it’s just like adapting a book? In fact, The Walk is sort of just a re-adaptation of the same book that Man on Wire is based on rather than necessarily a remake. Marwencol, though, will directly come off the 2010 film of the same name.

I appreciate and am happy Zemeckis never wants to see a BTTF remake and won’t allow one as long as he is able, but he might want to recheck his reasoning.

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Christopher Campbell began writing film criticism and covering film festivals for a zine called Read, back when a zine could actually get you Sundance press credentials. He's now a Senior Editor at FSR and the founding editor of our sister site Nonfics. He also regularly contributes to Fandango and Rotten Tomatoes and is the President of the Critics Choice Association's Documentary Branch.