Back to the Future is an American science fiction–adventure comedy film series written by Bob Gale and Robert Zemeckis, produced by Gale, and directed by Zemeckis. The 1955, 1985, Alternate 1985 and 2015 scenes from the film series were shot in multiple locations around Southern California while the 1885 scenes from part III were shot in Tuolumne County in Northern California and in Monument Valley in Northern Arizona; most of them are available to visit except Disney's Golden Oaks Movie Ranch, Valero Oil Refinery and the private residences which can only be viewed from the street.
The main characters are high school student Marty McFly (Michael J. Fox), and an eccentric scientist, Dr. "Doc" Emmett L. Brown (Christopher Lloyd). In 1985, Doc builds a time machine from a DMC DeLorean. In the first film, Marty, by accident, travels back to 1955. In part II, the main characters visit 2015, an alternate 1985, and back to 1955 again. Part III mainly takes place in 1885, in the Old West.
Spoiler alert! This article reveals plot details.
The main filming locations of the Back to the Future film trilogy
|“||The way I see it, if you’re going to build a time machine into a car, why not do it with some style?||”|
—Doc Emmett Brown
Back to the Future (1985)
- 1 Burger King in the opening credits, 545 N Victory Blvd (Victory Blvd and Cypress Ave, Burbank, CA), ☏ . Filming location of Doc Brown's garage (or at least the facade in 1985) and the opening credits of Back to the Future. Filming took place in the south parking lot, by the drive through lane of the restaurant.
- 1 Doc's mansion in 1955 (The Gamble House) (Pasadena, California), ☏ . Tours: Thursday through Sunday from noon to 3PM. The exterior shots were of the Gamble House while the front door and the interior shots were at the 2 Robert Blacker House at 1177 Hillcrest Ave in Pasadena Admission $10 to the Gamble House. . Some of the interior scenes took place on a soundstage at Universal Studios.
- 3 Hill Valley Courthouse Square in 1955, 1985, alt 1985 & 2015 (Universal Studios), 100 Universal City Plaza. the set is in the backlot of Universal Studios in Universal City. It used to be called Mockingbird Square in To Kill a Mockingbird (1962) and was renamed Hill Valley Courthouse Square after the production of Back to the Future. The set was used in numerous other movies and television programs from 1948 through 2016 such as Bye Bye Birdie, Incredible Hulk (1977-82), Gremlins, Pyscho II, Sneakers, and The Ghost Whisperer. Universal Studios also operates a public theme park which includes tram tours of the Courthouse Square among other features of their production studios and theme park.
- 4 The Hill Valley High School (Whittier High School), 12417 E. Philadelphia St (Whittier, California). the high-school scenes were filmed at Whittier High School which was also Richard Nixon's alma mater in 1930. The audition for the Battle of Bands talent show in 1985 and the Enchantment Under the Sea dance in 1955 were filmed elsewhere:
- 5 "Battle of the Bands" audition at the school gym in 1985 (McCambridge Recreation Center), 1515 N Glenoaks Blvd (At a park on Glenoaks Blvd & Andover Dr in Burbank, California), ☏ . M-F 9AM-9:45PM; Sa 9AM-4:30PM. Marty and the Pinheads auditioned for Battle of the Bands talent show at the McCambridge Recreation Center gym.
- 6 "Enchantment Under the Sea" dance at the school gym in 1955 (Hollywood United Methodist Church), 6817 Franklin Ave (Franklin Ave & N Highland in Hollywood, California), ☏ . Worship Services Su 11AM. The Enchantment Under the Sea dance where Marty's parents "clicked" took place in the church gym and in a stairwell leading to the basement of the church building. The outside scenes were filmed at the east side of the Whittier H.S. building. The church campus also served as the filming location for Sister Act, Bunheads, That Thing You do, Anger Management, Big Momma's House, Jarhead, People Like Us, One Foot in Heaven, and for several other movies.
- 7 the 1985 entrance to the Lyon Estates neighbourhood, Kagel Canyon St & Sandusky Ave, Pacoima, California (Pacoima, California). Entrance into the street where the McFly residence is located on. In real life the location of the entrance to (the fictional) Lyon Estates and the house used for the McFly residence are not on the same street.
- 8 the 1985 McFly residence, 9303 Roslyndale Avenue, Arleta, California (Arleta, California).
- 9 Twin Pines / Lone Pine Mall in 1985 (Puente Hills Mall), 1600 Azusa Ave (City of Industry, California), ☏ . Doc Brown tested out his new time machine invention in the Twin Pines/Lone Pine Mall parking lot while Marty records with a camcorder and where the Libyan terrorists found them and started to shoot at them for the plutonium rods Doc had stolen. The action took place in the south parking lot of Puente Hills Mall in front of 24 Hour Fitness (JCPenney at the time of filming).
- 10 Peabody's Twin Pine Ranch in 1955 (Disney's Golden Oak Ranch), 19802 Placerita Canyon Road, Newhall, California (Newhall, California). The movie ranch is not open for public tours.. The 1955 Twin Pines Ranch is within Disney's expansive 890 acre Golden Oak (Movie) Ranch which served as a filming location for numerous other films in different settings. The DeLoren landed here in 1955 after escaping from the Libyan terrorists and going back in time from the mall in 1985. On his escape from Peabody Marty ran over one of two pine trees Peabody had which changed the mall's name from "Twin Pines" in the beginning of the movie to "Lone Pine" towards the end of the movie.
- 11 the 1955 entrance to the Lyon Estates neighborhood, 17545 Cucamonga Ave, Chino, California (Chino, California). After escaping from Peabody at the Twin Pines Ranch, Marty came to the soon to be built Lyon Estates out in the "boonies" where he hid the Delorean and walked 2 miles into town to seek help.
- 12 the 1955 Baines residence, 1727 Bushnell Avenue, South Pasadena, California (South Pasadena, California). Marty came upon his (future) dad, George, up in a tree getting a good look at Lorraine (inside) with a pair of binoculars. This house also served as Scott Howard's home (also played by Michael J Fox) in Teen Wolf (1985)
- 13 the 1955 Mcfly residence, 1711 Bushnell Avenue, South Pasadena, California (South Pasadena, California).
- 14 The DeLorean Starting line in 1955, 2715 N Vermont Canyon Road, Los Angeles, California (Los Angeles, California). The starting line is the extra distance the Delorean needed to accelerate up to and maintain speed at 88 mph to reach the courthouse, get struck by a lightning which will then zap the Delorean to 1985. The filming of this scene is a two part sequence at Griffith Park and then at Universal Studios.
Back to the Future Part II (1989)
- 15 the 2015 McFly residence, 3793 Oakhurst Street, El Monte, California (El Monte, California).
- 16 2015 Hilldale, Somerset St & Oakhurst St, El Monte, California (El Monte, California). 'Hilldale' was the development name and entrance marker for the location of the 2015 McFly residence.
- 17 Jeniffer's house in alternative 1985, 161 N Magnolia Ave, Monrovia, California (Monrovia, California).
- 18 Biff Tannen's Pleasure Paradise in alternative 1985 (Plaza Hotel & Casino), 1 N Main St, Las Vegas NV 89101 (Main & Fremont, outside the Vegas Fremont St Experience.). The exterior shot of Biff Tannen's Pleasure Paradise was modeled from the Plaza Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas which was digitized in with scenes of the bikers' gathering and the hotel entrance which were filmed at the Courthouse Square at Universal Studios. By the alternate 1985 Biff had his hotel and palace built in place of the courthouse at the Hill Valley Courthouse Square. The chase through the Pleasure Paradise stairwell took place in a stairwell at the parking garage of the 1 Universal City Hilton. The Plaza Hotel & Casino in Las Vegas was an actual setting for numerous other movies such as Diamonds are Forever in the James Bond film series (1971); The Stand (1994), Ultimate Poker Challenge, The Mexican (2001), The Odds (2010), among other movies & television programs.
- 19 Mr. Strickland's house in alternative 1985, 12511 Bailey St, Whittier, California (Whittier, California). Marty trespassed on Strickland's porch to read the paper on the porch to understand the alternative reality only to be confronted by Strickland with a gun. A group of thugs then made a drive by shooting at Strickland which allows Marty to escape from Strickland. Ironically the house happens to be located next to the school in real life, in Whittier.
- 20 Oak Park Cemetery in alternative 1985 (Valero Oil Refinery), 2402 E Anaheim (E Anaheim & N Henry Ford Ave (SR-47), Wilmington, California). No public access. Marty went there to see his father's grave for himself in the alternate 1985 after his mother told him his father, George McFly, was mysteriously murdered by Biff in 1973 of the altered timeline so Biff can forcibly marry Marty's mother. The oil refinery had a sizeable green space to set up a faux cemetery for the filming which has since been replaced by the storage tanks. The rest of the refinery served as a backdrop to illustrate the power and influence of Biff's 'BiffCo Industries' in the movie.
- 21 the 1955 Tannen residence, 1809 Bushnell Avenue, South Pasadena, California (South Pasadena, California). Biff lived with his grandmother in 1955 no mention about his parents. The older Biff took his younger self home to give his younger self the sports almanac from 2015 and explain its significance privately. In real life Biff's house is located along the same street as the 1955 Baines & McFly houses in Pasadena.
- 22 River Road Tunnel, Observation Tunnel, Griffith Park, Hollywood, California (Vermont Canyon Rd going up towards Observatory from Greek Theater). Daily 5AM-10PM. The location where Biff and Marty go Ford-to-hoverboard in a tunnel in 1955. The tunnel was also a portal into "Toontown" in Who Framed Roger Rabbit (another movie where Christopher Lloyd played Judge Doom) (1988) and the entrance into NORAD's underground bunker in War Games (1983).
Back to the Future Part III (1990)
- 23 The "Pohatchee Drive-In" in the desert (Monument Valley, AZ) (Monument Valley, Arizona). The Pohatchee Drive In Theater was located 20 mile outside of Hill Valley in an open desert in 1955. This served as an ideal location for Doc Brown to send Marty back to 1885 with wide open spaces to reach 88 mph without been seen. It was also at the same location in 1885 right after been zapped back in time where Marty encountered Indians been chased by the U.S. Army. The drive in theater was named after, and themed around the fictional Pohatchee Indian tribe who used to inhabit the area before the establishment of Hill Valley. The filming location for the Pohatchee Drive-In Theater in 1955 and its location in 1885 were filmed in Monument Valley, AZ near the Arizona-Utah state line on a purpose built set in 1989 for the production of Back to the Future III. The set was dismantled and removed after the production of the movie. Monument Valley has been a setting for numerous other movies such as Stagecoach (1939) and The Searchers (1956). It has also been featured in such films as Easy Rider (1969), directed by and co-starring Dennis Hopper; Forrest Gump (1994), directed by Robert Zemeckis; Cars (2006) and The Eiger Sanction (1972), directed by and starring Clint Eastwood; and in two episodes of the popular United Kingdom television show Doctor Who: The Impossible Astronaut (23 April 2011) and Day of the Moon (30 April 2011). It was also the setting for the "Marlboro Man" in the Marlboro cigarette TV and print commercials of the 1950s.
- 24 The 1885 McFly Homestead (China Flat in the Santa Monica Mountains) (Oak Park, California). It was also the filming location for Boothill Cemetery and Delgado Mine in Back to the Future Part 3. It's a approximately a 40 minute hike up from the end of King James Ct. The Santa Monica Mountains was also a filming location for the TV series M*A*S*H and other movies and television programs in different parts of the park.
- 25 1885 Hill Valley (Red Hills Ranch; Sonora CA). Most of the scenes of Hill Valley in 1885 were filmed on a purpose built set for Back to the Future III in the former Red Hills (Movie) Ranch, south of Sonora (California). The set was later used in Bad Girls (1994) and eventually destroyed by brush fire in 1996. The Red Hills Movie Ranch was also a filming location for other television shows and movies such as Bonanza (1959-73 TV series); Little House on the Prairie (1974-83 TV series); Unforgiven (1992); Sacketts (1979) and Adventures of Brisco County Jr (1993-1994 Comedy).
- 26 Train to Hill Valley in 1885 (Railtown 1897 State Historic Park), 10501 Reservoir Rd, Jamestown (South along 5th Ave which becomes Reservoir Rd approximately 0.5 mi (0.80 km) south of Jamestown.), ☏ . Apr-Oct 9:30AM-4:30M; Nov-Mar 10AM-3PM. The filming of the train scenes were filmed at the Railtown 1897 State Historic Park and along the old Sierra Railroad tracks between Jamestown and "Hill Valley" in the Red Hills Movie Ranch. The Sierra No 3 locomotive was used for the filming which still functions as tourist train between Jamestown and Oakdale. Railtown 1897 State Historic Park offers a museum where visitors can see this famous movie train as well as other props from Back to the Future 3. Admissions $5 adults; $3 youth ages 6-17; free for children under 5.
- 27 Shonash Ravine Bridge. The location where Doc planned to push the Delorean up to 88 mph with a steam driven locomotive to send Marty to 1985.
- 28 The location where a train crashes into the DeLorean, South Ventura Road & Shoreview Drive, Port Hueneme, California (Port Hueneme, California). After being zapped to 1985 from 1885 the Delorean landed here where it was later destroyed by a train.
- 29 1985 Hilldale, Doris Ave & Oxford Dr, Oxnard, California (Oxnard, California). At the entrance of the new Hilldale development (location of Marty & Jennifer's future home) Needles challenged Marty to a drag race that would result in a crash into a Rolls Royce that suddenly came out from Coronado Pl. This event took place towards the end of the movie.