‘Back to the Future’ creator: ‘They told us time travel movies don’t make money’

Updated 6:02 AM EDT, Thu July 23, 2015
(CNN) —  

It’s almost laughable now. But when “Back to the Future” screenwriter Bob Gale was trying to get his film off the ground in the 1980s, he and director Robert Zemeckis were repeatedly told: “Time travel movies don’t make money.”

If only Gale could go back in time and show the naysayers how wrong they were.

Thirty years later, “Back to the Future” has become one of the most profitable – and beloved – film trilogies of all time, spawning an animated series, countless hovercraft prototypes and an upcoming comic book, to be released in October.

PHOTO: Courtesy Bryan Bedder/Getty Images
'Back to the Future' screenwriter Bob Gale.

“People point to our trilogy as an example of ‘time travel done right,’ in which the rules are defined and understandable, and the stakes are clear,” Gale told CNN.

“So it’s become a benchmark in the genre, and it’s meant that studios aren’t afraid to make them.”

While a “Back to the Future” remake is off the cards for now – Zemeckis recently said it would only happen over his and Gale’s dead bodies – there are plans for a comic book series in which we discover how Marty and Doc met for the very first time.

While we patiently wait for the book’s release, we asked you to send in your burning “Back to the Future” questions for Gale, using the Twitter hashtag #AskBobGale or leaving a comment on our call-out.

Here are some of the best. To see the full set of questions – and Gale’s answers – head here.

Your #AskBobGale questions answered

Bob Gale: “They would be sitting at Starbucks, complaining that we don’t have flying cars or hoverboards!”

BG: “Although part of me wishes we had flying cars, it seems we still have enough trouble driving in two dimensions, so maybe it’s good that we’re not asking people to drive in three.

On the plus side is the marvel of the internet. As a writer and researcher, I love having access to so much information.

And we certainly didn’t foresee the smart phone, and I’d have to say that it’s the most amazing device we have today – and one that has truly changed society and how people relate to each other.”

BG: “The characters! Interesting characters are what keeps audiences interested in the story, and it’s why movie stars are paid so much.

People like to see people, and the characters are our gateway into the story. I also think a great – or at least an appropriate – ending is very important.”

BG: “Besides the time machine, the devices Doc has in 2015 weren’t actually invented by Doc – we presumed these were ‘off the shelf’ purchases. So if you’re asking about those, we thought the biometric devices would happen (and we were right), we thought flat screen TVs and home video conferencing would happen (and we were right), we didn’t expect drones would happen (but they did), we expected weather prediction would improve.

We expected there would be a lot of voice-activated technology (we were right), and we expected that medical information would be accessible through a person’s finger print (which is almost reality). We did not expect there would be fusion power or flying cars or hoverboards, but people are trying to create all of these.”

BG: “I wouldn’t! I couldn’t! Back to the Future (BTTF) was co-created and co-written by my good friend, director Robert Zemeckis, and there’s no better director alive today!

The movies are directed brilliantly on every level, so no one should even think about someone else directing them!”

BG: “The book I recommend to every aspiring writer is ‘The Art Of Dramatic Writing’ by Lajos Egri.

This was the book from which I learned the craft of dramatic writing, and it was used by many of the best screenwriters of the 1940s and 1950s.

My thanks to everyone who submitted a question, and best wishes for the future!”

See the full list of of questions – and answers – here.