Hollywood United Methodist Church · 6817 Franklin Avenue · Hollywood, CA
After shuffling between various locations already covered in this tour, the movie finally arrives at the social event toward which the entire story has been culminating, the Enchantment Under the Sea Dance. And despite the well-played illusion that it's all taking place right there at Hill Valley High, all entrances to the gymnasium actually transport everyone 20 miles into Hollywood.
The stage on which Michael J. Fox performs to an unfortunately obvious dub overlooks the basketball court located at the rear of the Hollywood United Methodist Church. The church stands conspicuously on Franklin Avenue just blocks from such tourist-saturated attractions as Mann's Chinese Theater and the Hollywood Entertainment Museum.
The church isn't easy to miss with its highly visible, 20-foot AIDS ribbon secured to the front of the chapel's majestic tower. The famous red ribbon was added in 1992 to express the church's commitment to those affected by the disease, defying many denominations' ignorant belief that AIDS is a punishment sent from Heaven directed toward homosexuals.
The Gothic-style house of God has been a Hollywood fixture since 1929 and consequently has had a number of celebrity members in its congregation through the years. It isn't really a star-hunting hot spot these days, though, since most actors have chosen not to live in the now-slummy and did I mention touristy? Hollywood area.
The church still sees its fair share of luminaries, though, as many productions make use of the HUMC's spaces for their rehearsals. It's also a relatively popular filming location, having been used in such movies as Sister Act and That Thing You Do which, coincidentally, featured the same stage as Back to the Future, using it for the competition during which the band's drummer added an upbeat tempo to the future Wonders hit.
The gym, like many movie locations, looks larger on screen than it does in person. But all the details are in the right place the windows, the doors even the stairs that lead offstage are there. But, one interesting thing stands out: The double doors that lead outside are, in reality, only one door. It appears as though the production team was forced to knock out part of a wall in order to match the doors at Whittier High. Then again, perhaps the church did have double doors back in the 80s, but decided to modify the entrance for whatever reason. I'm not really sure, but perhaps someone out there knows more.
Next: The Climax Starting Line
Visited May 13 & September 22, 2000