This day in age, almost no film -- no matter how "iconic" it is considered to be -- is off-limits for a remake or reboot. That includes a number of films held closely by the generation that grew up with them, with remakes of Jumanji, Gremlins, and The Goonies all reportedly in development.
Of course, there is the chance that these new takes on the classic films may be as good, if not better, than their predecessors. But, as has been demonstrated by the majority of the last few attempts at remakes, that is not usually the case. In spite of the inconsistent track record, studios continue to pursue remaking their former hits, including the Back to the Future franchise. While a reboot is not likely to happen anytime soon, thanks to director Robert Zemeckis, it certainly has been discussed as a possibility before.
One possibility that hasn't gotten as much attention as a reboot is a direct sequel to the Back to the Future trilogy. As Doc Brown himself, Christopher Lloyd, recently told THR, he'd be more than willing to make a fourth Back to the Future film. Permitting that the original team -- which included the likes of director Robert Zemeckis, and co-stars Michael J. Fox, Thomas F. Wilson, and Lea Thompson -- all agreed to the project, Lloyd says he "would love to do Doc again, no question."
Of course, there are a number of roadblocks to actually making Back to the Future 4, including the difficulty of finding the right story, as Lloyd indicates:
"It’s tough to come up with an idea that contains the excitement of the original three. So it would be a real challenge for the writers to come up with an original Back to the Future story that has the same passion and intensity and excitement as the other three. But it could be done, you never know."
Like Lloyd said, it may be a challenge, but finding a plot that works and honors the original films is not necessarily impossible. That being said, it's uncertain if the trilogy's original director, Robert Zemeckis, would be willing to return for a sequel, given his recent hesitancy in continuing the franchise. On the other hand, Lloyd is certain at least one cast member would also be up to return, being his co-star Michael J. Fox:
"I think regardless of the Parkinson’s, he’d probably jump on the role and he’d be great. I can’t see doing another sequel without him. I would certainly want Bob Zemeckis directing it, Bob Gale writing it and the other principals being involved."
Additionally, Lloyd says he would want the iconic DeLorean to return as well, saying "It was such a perfect choice for the film. It looked so speedy and futuristic."
In response to the recent discussions of a reboot for Back to the Future, Lloyd assures that there is still one thing holding it back, being the irreplaceability of Michael J. Fox as Marty McFly:
"It’s hard to replace Marty. Michael J. Fox was so wonderful in the role."
Similarly, it would be awfully difficult to find a suitable replacement for Doc Brown that lives up to the standards set by Lloyd. In the years since its release, Lloyd's performance as Doc Brown has become so memorable that it's often one of the first things fans think of when they think of the franchise. That kind of performance is hard to match, especially when viewers have grown so accustomed to the character.
In spite of Lloyd's eagerness to get the Back to the Future franchise up-and-running again, it seems rather unlikely that it will get a fourth installment. There are still a number of factors holding it back, and its not guaranteed that everyone involved would be willing to return. Whatever the case is, if Back to the Future 4 did get made, it would be able to find a sizable audience, because as Lloyd says, "It hasn't faded" in the 30 years since its release.
In fact, the property and the two actors demonstrated their enduring popularity by recently appearing in a commercial, in which they discussed the technology of the future that the trilogy actually got right:
The Back to the Future trilogy is set for theatrical re-release on October 21st, 2015, on the same day as the 30th Anniversary Blu-ray set.