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‘Back To The Future’ Was Almost Called Something Very Different

Emily Brown

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'Back To The Future' Was Almost Called Something Very DifferentUniversal Pictures

Given the plot of Back To The Future it’s easy to understand why the film has the title it does, but if the then-Head of Universal Studios had his way it could have been called something very different. 

Starring Michael J. Fox, Back To The Future sees high-schooler Marty McFly travel back in time from the 1980s to the 1950s, where he gets trapped and is forced to try and find his way back – back to the future.


It doesn’t take a genius to link that synopsis with the title, but while the film was still in its early stages Sidney Sheinberg, the Head of Universal Studios at the time, suggested that the filmmakers give the movie a complete makeover.

Back To The Future (Universal Pictures)Universal Pictures

According to the book Back to the Future: The Ultimate Visual History, as cited by ScreenRant, Sheinberg sent a memo in 1984 that suggested filmmakers alter both the title and plot because Back To The Future appeared to ‘make the picture a “genre” picture.’

The company head suggested the creators should instead go with the title Space Man From Pluto, which he claimed had ‘heat’ and ‘originality’ and would make the film ‘appear to the audience to be a cheap, old fashioned sci-fi flick.’


He wrote: ‘Most importantly, I think it avoids the feeling of a “genre” time-travel movie.’

Michael J. Fox in Back To The Future (Universal Pictures)Universal Pictures

Filmmakers Robert Zemeckis, Bob Gale and Steven Spielberg were left baffled by Sheinberg’s suggestions, but reportedly didn’t want to reject them outright. Instead, Spielberg shot down Sheinberg’s suggestions with a letter which implied he thought they were a joke.

He wrote: ‘Hi Sid, thanks for your most humorous memo, we all got a big laugh out of it, keep ’em coming.’


Evidently, the letter did the trick and prevented Sheinberg from pursuing the pitch of a film about a man from Pluto. While it might have turned out to be a fine movie, film fans probably don’t need to go back in time to know that the decisions made on the matter were good ones.

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Topics: Film and TV, Back to the Future, Michael J Fox, Now, Steven Spielberg


  1. ScreenRant

    Why Back To The Future Was Almost Called Space Man From Pluto

Emily Brown
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