Sunday, June 01, 2008

Save the Clock Tower!

This afternoon, a fire at Universal Studios consumed some of the King Kong park tour attraction, the "New York Street" sets and much of Hill Valley from the Back to the Future films. (Mercifully, the film's most iconic landmark setting, the Clock Tower, was spared).

Reading this Slashfilm post about the fire's aftermath was actually kind of trippy. I mean, these are sets for movies that have already been made. They are no longer functional at all, but exist only as part of a guided tour showing people behind-the-scenes of how movies are made. And yet...there is a real emotional attachment to these places, because of their involvement in classic movies. I bet a lot more people would be upset to hear that the fictional Back to the Future clock tower burned down than some random actual clock tower in a real town.

I mean, they're going to rebuild the Hill Valley set. Rebuild a set for a movie that's long-finished! Just so they can drive tourists in front of it! Now that's real, authentic, behind-the-scenes movie magic!

Now here's where things get...really pomo. This Hill Valley wasn't the real one from the movie.

The courthouse square set was not the original set used in the time-travel trilogy. Just after the sequels finished shooting, almost the entire square was burned down in the 1990 fire (which also took down New York Street). It was rebuilt from the original blueprints.

What's with all the horrific Universal Studio fires? Is that Backdraft attraction behind all of this? Because it's really not all that cool guys could probably ditch it...


Anonymous said...

Lons, the clock tower was already missing for a while now. The city square form the Back to the Future films was currently used for the CBS show "Ghost Whisper". In order to make sure that people of the show wouldn't associate the BTTF films with the show, they basically re-constructed the whole Courthouse so it looked like one long building. No more clock, no more big steps. Check out a photo here:

Matt said...

Actually they just put the clock tower in storage. The courthouse was designed to adapt very easily...

"The famous clock tower roof from the Courthouse has been removed and is stored on the backlot, hopefully to be restored once Ghost Whisperer has finished filming. (September 2006)"