“That would save us $1 Million easy”: Studio Had to Build a Town From Scratch Only to Destroy It For Back to the Future’s Canceled Ending

Back to the Future was almost going to blow up a town.

Back to the Future


  • The first Back to the Future's ending is almost as iconic as the film series itself.
  • However, many might not know that it was not the original plan the writers had for the movie.
  • Not only was the first ending a lot darker, it also required a lot more expenses.
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Back to the Future is one of the most iconic films of all time. It managed to completely change the sci-fi genre forever, gained popularity in a way that was unheard of, and started a wave of influence and inspiration that can be felt in Hollywood to date. While the film series, as a whole, has had this effect, there is no denying that the first film always stands out the most.

Lea Thompson and Michael J. Fox in a still from Back to the Future | Universal Pictures
Lea Thompson and Michael J. Fox in a still from Back to the Future | Universal Pictures

Science-fiction films have never been cheap to make, and the 1985 film was no different in this regard. However. it would seem that the first film could have been even more expensive had it gone for the original ending.

Back to the Future Was Almost Very Different

Before Back to the Future got its wholesome ending, the film was supposed to end in a much darker tone. Deep into production, the ending of the film was supposed to be extremely different, having the element of a bomb being tested in the middle of the desert by the military.

Screenshot from Back To The Future clip
A still from Back To The Future | Universal Pictures

As seen in storyboards drawn up by Andrew Probert, via Gassorr, the film was supposed to show Michael J. Fox’s Marty McFly in the DeLorean time machine, racing right towards the bomb in order to go back into the future. He reaches just as the bomb goes off, leaving a mushroom cloud in its wake, and the scene cuts off.

Back in the original timeline, in 1985, a group of tourists were at the same sight, learning about what went down there. As the guide explained the ambiguity of what took place decades ago, they were met with a guest. A flash of light blinds everyone, and Marty McFly comes back in the DeLorean.

Explosions Are Expensive

While this ending is certainly quite interesting, it would have been much darker than the ending that Back to the Future ended up with. On that note, many might wonder why the production did not go with the darker ending. In the end, it all came down to money. During an interview with Collider, Bob Gale, a co-writer on the project, revealed that the film was asked to go back on its budget a bit.

Back To The Future | Universal Pictures
Back To The Future | Universal Pictures

Their expenditure was reduced by $1 million, which was quite a lot at the time. Since the original ending required them to create a whole town full of people only to destroy it, it was the most expensive scene in the entire movie.

And the most expensive thing was going on location and building this town. And we said well, if we can cut that out – if we can cut going on location and building a town and do something on a location that we already have, namely the backlot, that would save us $1 million easy.

Michael J. Fox
Michael J. Fox in Back To The Future | Universal Pictures

Rather than opting for that route, the film’s producers decided to make do with what they had and shape the ending around the resources they already had.

Back to the Future is available for streaming on Netflix. 


Written by Ananya Godboley

Articles Published: 1302

A poet and art enthusiast, Ananya Godboley is a striving academic who is pursuing a career in Criminal Psychology, currently doing an undergrad degree in Psychology. Passionate about History, Philosophy and Literature, she loves to learn about new and interesting subjects. A writer for FandomWire with over 1000 published articles, she adores all things superhero and Taylor Swift.