What it’s like to watch ‘Back to the Future’ with new music, with 15,000 people

“Back to the Future” broke a record on Tuesday night: Over 15,000 people gathered at the Hollywood Bowl in Los Angeles to watch the beloved 1985 movie – that”s more people watching “Back to the Future” together, at the same time, in the same place than ever before.

It”s always a joy for me to watch “Back to the Future” on the big screen with an audience (which is an opportunity afforded rather often to Angelenos), an audience that laughs and cheers in all the right places so you know you”re surrounded by people who share an appreciation for this uniquely delightful movie.

But to do that at the Bowl with over 15,000 people was a particular thrill. Laughter chorused all around me that much louder at lines like “When this baby hits 88 m.p.h., you”re gonna see some serious s-.” The cheers were that much more thunderous for moments like George”s triumphant punch that knocks Biff out cold.

At some moments in the film, it was clear how the comedy hits certain generations differently: When Lou says in the cafe, “I can”t give you a tab unless you order something,” there was a pocket of chuckles to my left. When Marty asks for a Pepsi Free, there was a collection of laughter to my right.

And at the big venue, there were all the more fans dressed up in “Back to the Future” garb. I spotted a lot of red-orange vests, several of Marty Jr.”s color-changing caps, countless “Back to the Future”-referencing T-shirts, a few people in Doc”s lab coat and a wig of his recognizable wild white hair, one fan wearing George McFly”s white dinner jacket and bow tie from the dance, and one pair of Nike Air Mags that I admittedly ogled at for a bit too long.

Of course, one of the biggest thrills of Tuesday”s Hollywood Bowl show was the Los Angeles Philharmonic performing the movie”s score live. The screening was part of FILM CONCERT LIVE!”s series of “Back to the Future” screenings with live orchestras. At the Bowl, David Newman conducted the L.A. Philharmonic. “Back to the Future” writer-producer Bob Gale introduced the event, along with several cast and crew members.

A live orchestra meant the quality of the sound was superb, but there was the added visual bonus of watching the orchestra. I was fortunate to be sitting close enough to see the orchestra and to pick out individual musicians. To watch the drummers – either directly or out of the corner of my eye as I focused more on the screen – during the moment when the Libyans are driving into the Twin Pines Mall intensified the suspense of that scene. To see a mass of bows fly up across violins right as the DeLorean”s hook hits the cable and sends Marty back to 1985 punctuated the satisfaction of that moment of success.