Philadelphia gearing up for Back to the Future Day

The Bryn Mawr Film Institute in Lower Merion Township will be showing a special screening of Back to the Future Part II on October 21st.

Byby Digital Producer BROCK KOLLER via WPVI logo
Tuesday, October 20, 2015

PHILADELPHIA (WPVI) -- Great Scott! The Chicago Cubs are in the playoffs. Hoverboards are all the rage. And Pepsi is set to release Pepsi Perfect bottles. It's 2015 and the future is here.

And on October 21st, millions across the world will be celebrating Back to the Future Day.

But why on that specific Wednesday? It's all in the script.

In Back to the Future Part II, hero Marty McFly travels from his present-day 1985 to 30 years in the future - October 21, 2015 - to prevent his children from making decisions that would jeopardize his family.

It's a day that movie fans have been waiting for since the film's release in 1989. And unlike the hoaxes the internet has seen over the years, this time, the date on the calendar will match that on the dashboard of Doc Brown's DeLorean time machine seen in the movie.

To join in the celebration, the Bryn Mawr Film Institute in Lower Merion Township will be showing a special screening of Back to the Future Part II, complete with costumes, trivia, and an actual DeLorean.

Valerie Temple, the BMFI Director of Programming, says she's been waiting a long time for this day herself.

"I was so frustrated by that hoax because how could a true fan be fooled? That date had been etched in my memory since I was a kid! And now that it's actually here, for real, I knew I couldn't let it pass without a celebration," Temple said.

Temple remembers seeing the film on home video and instantly connecting to it.

"When my parents or their friends would throw parties, they would shove all the kids into one room and pop on a video to entertain us - and keep us out of their hair. That's how I was introduced to Back to the Future and I immediately loved it," Temple said.

Like Valerie, Caseen Gaines, a Rutgers graduate and self-proclaimed 'pop culture junkie' remembers watching Back to the Future Part II on video.

"I actually saw Back to the Future Part II for the first time on home video. I was alive when the film was out, but still too young for the theatrical experience. When I saw the movie for the first time, I really hoped the future would look like it does in the film, with hoverboards and flying cars. Who wouldn't want to live in Hill Valley circa 2015?" Gaines said.

Gaines, who teaches high school English in New Jersey, took his love of Back to the Future and put it into words. With his book We Don't Need Roads: The Making of the Back to the Future Trilogy, Gaines knew it was the right time to tell the untold behind the scenes stories.

"Like every Back to the Future fan around the world, I have been waiting for 2015 my entire life. I knew that the timing would be perfect for a book commemorating not only the 'future' of October 21, but also the amazing success of this trilogy that really succeeded despite a lot of setbacks in production, especially on the first film. The fact that the [original] has remained a consistent hit for thirty years doesn't seem surprising in hindsight, but it was very unlikely back when they started filming in 1984," Gaines said.

Gaines spent months interviewing those who made the Back to the Future trilogy a reality including director Robert Zemeckis, producer Bob Gale, actor Christopher Lloyd, actress Lea Thompson, musician Huey Lewis, and more. He says they couldn't have been more accommodating.

"Some of the stories in this book have never been told, and that's really because of the rapport I was able to build during our interviews. On a personal level, I regularly had to pinch myself. I respect everyone's work so much; I was so grateful to be able to tell them that directly," Gaines said.

Learning how the production team came up with the ideas for Back to the Future Part II was a highlight for Gaines.

"There was a healthy mix of going for humor, as in Marty rides and invents the skateboard in the first film, so a natural extension would be a hoverboard in the future, and also going for practicality, like self-lacing shoes and a self-drying jacket," Gaines said.

But while Nike has promised those self-lacing sneakers in the near future, there are still no hydrating level 4 pizzas, no self-drying jackets, and no flying cars.

"I am so glad we don't have flying cars. Every time there's a crash on the highway, I think to myself, 'At least this didn't happen in the sky with cars falling down left and right without warning.' But perhaps air traffic control would regulate that. I suppose we have a little bit of time before we know that one!" Gaines said.

Temple, who doesn't drive, is also content with the lack of soaring automobiles.

"Well, I don't drive because I'm scared of maneuvering a giant hunk of metal at high speeds on the ground, so I'd be terrified of adding flying to the equation. It's a cool idea in theory, but it really only works if everyone is an expert driver. I mean, what happens in the case of a crash? I know I wouldn't be cool with cars just falling out the sky, willy-nilly. But, hoverboards? Bring 'em on!" Temple said.

In Gaines' book, he points out the filmmakers did make "some accurate prognoses" including thumb pads, videoconferencing, multichannel TV viewing, and flat screens.

And while it may not look exactly like the Mattel one Marty borrows in the film, this past summer, Lexus unveiled their own version of a hoverboard called the Slide.

"There are bits of Back to the Future Part II in our everyday lives, for sure. You've seen the Lexus commercial with the hoverboard. Would people have tried so hard to make that happen by 2015 if the film hadn't existed? I doubt it," Gaines said.

Not to be outdone by others, Universal, the studio behind the trilogy, released its own commercial for their Part II hoverboards. Sadly, it appears to be all fiction, still.

In just the last few weeks, companies have showed just what an impact Back to the Future Part II's future sequences left on society.

With a tongue in cheek tone, Universal released a trailer for Jaws 19, a movie playing at the Hill Valley theater in 2015.

Pepsi, meanwhile, announced it will in fact release bottles of Pepsi Perfect, just like those available at the Cafe 80s.

Toyota has even released a video featuring stars Michael J. Fox and Christopher Lloyd discussing what predictions the movie got right.

And though as of press time, the Chicago Cubs have not yet won the World Series as prophesized in the movie, the club does remain in the MLB playoffs.

"I know a lot of people have different opinions on this, but I believe Back to the Future Part II is a brilliant film. When you consider how successful the first movie was, the fact that Robert Zemeckis and Bob Gale had the passion for their project to craft a brand new story, instead of just rehashing the first film in a different time period, is amazing. Its influence is still resonating. Just look at how many memes and articles are posted online each day about 'the future,'" Gaines said.

Gaines will be celebrating BTTF Day in California during the 'We're Going Back Convention' where he will be watching Part II in the actual Hill Valley square.

"It should be a fun time. Maybe I'll have a Pepsi Perfect," Gaines said.

As California welcomes Gaines and company, the Bryan Mawr Film Institute will be welcoming a crowd of Back to the Future fans in the Philadelphia region.

"Theaters across the nation will be celebrating Back to the Future Day - it's a big deal - but I doubt many will be getting as nerdy as us about it. Not only will we have a DeLorean for people to take pictures with, I'll be first in line for that, but we're also dressing up our historic atrium so that it evokes the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance. Those well-versed in BTTF trivia will also have a chance to win some fun prizes, so it's sure to be a good time for diehard fans and newbies alike," Temple said.

If you can't make it to the Bryn Mawr Film Institute, a number of theaters around the Philadelphia area will be showing the entire trilogy back-to-back-to-back. Now that's heavy.

Not only is Back to the Future Day days away, but so is Halloween, so why not combine both and come dressed to the theater in a costume?

"This year for Halloween I'm going as Marty, Jr., with the rainbow hat, self-drying jacket, self-lacing shoes, jeans with my pockets inside out, and hoverboard. I think this is the perfect year to dress like the future!" Gaines said.

Temple has her own idea for the perfect cosplay.

"Dressing for Back to the Future is fun because you can go totally 80s or totally 50s. And with Part II there's the whole bad 80s timeline that could be inspiration for some great costumes. All you need is a Donald Trump wig and a leopard print robe and boom - you've got yourself a legit Biff Tannen look. I'm looking forward to seeing what people will come up with," Temple said.

In Part II, the character Biff changes the timeline creating an alternate reality, so it's worth asking if by the time October 21, 2015 arrives, will Biff somehow change the BMFI to the BTFI (Biff Tannen Film Insitute)?

Temple says, "It's possible, but I don't think it's our density, er, destiny."

This special screening of Back to the Future Part II is $12 for general admission, $9 for seniors, $8 for students, and $6.50 for BMFI members. Tickets can be purchased online at or in person at the Box Office during operating hours.

For more information and tickets to Back to the Future Part II at the Bryn Mawr Film Institute:

For more information on Caseen Gaines:

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