Show of the week: Back to the Present

The original Back to the Future movie is 30 this year prompting Canal+’s D8 channel to order Back to the Present, a one off pop-science, entertainment special, commemorating the anniversary and asking specialists whether parts of the big screen adventure – from hover boards and self-sealing Nike trainers – have come about in real life.

The commission is the first for Allo Houston, the fledgling factual and fact-ent production company run by Boris Hertzog and the production team from Ouido, which was sold to Technicolor last year.

The original idea came from Allo Houston director Gilles Ganzmann. The next challenge in getting the show made was clearing French and worldwide rights from the Universal Pictures’ movie. With those in hand, the producers managed to secure interviews with the franchise’s producer, Robert Zemeckis, co-star, Christopher Lloyd (Doc) and other cast members. There is no dedicated Michael J. Fox interview, but there is footage of the star talking about the films.

Footage of the team’s memories from Back to the Future is spliced with that of experts who, in the pop-science component of the show, reveal whether some of the more outlandish film moments are possible or have come to pass in the way envisaged on the big screen.

Popular DTT channel D8 will transmit the show in October and Matthieu Porte’s Can’t Stop Media is selling the show internationally. Ironically, in France, the rights to the movies reside with TF1, although D8 can ensure its rival does not play the movie on the night it screens the special by playing it on a Wednesday, when French broadcasters are forbidden from showing feature films.

Elsewhere, the special would sit well alongside the movie, and with broadcasters that have a programming deal with NBCUniversal.

Can’t Stop’s sales chief Damien Porte says that it is speaking to channels it knows have Back to the Future movie rights as well as casting the net wider. “It’s at the crossroads of pop-culture, pop-science and entertainment,” he says.

The D8 version is 90-minutes but Can’t Stop has packaged it as a commercial hour. The distributor is understood to be close to a deal in several countries in Europe and Lat-Am.


The showBack to the Present

The producers: Allo Houston

The distributor: Can’t Stop Media

The broadcaster: D8 (France)

The concept: One-off special looking at whether the future imagined in the Back to the Future films has come to pass and reliving classic moments from the 1980s movie with cast and crew