Charles Grodin recounts the making of the this film in great detail in his 1989 autobiography 'It Would Be So Nice If You Weren't Here'.
Charles Grodin got some of his actors friends involved in trying to pitch the film. Himself, Steve Martin, Gilda Radner, Penny Marshall and Tyne Daly all agreed to work for the least amount of money the union allowed.did so without even reading the script. When the film was finally green-lit, Grodin received no salary for writing or producing the film, only the minimum for working five weeks as an actor: about five thousand dollars for two years of work (seven years in total since the inception of the project).
While Charles Grodin was still going around every movie studio in Hollywood trying to get his script made, director William Asher agreed to make it for two millions dollars if people would defer salaries. This is why Grodin and Asher share a producers credit on the finished film.
Following not very successful preview screenings, the son of MGM executive Greg Morrision suggested to add narration by Charles Grodin to tie the story together.
In the mid 1970s, Paramount Pictures paid a great amount of money to secure the rights to Alex Comfort's sex manual 'The Joy of Sex' just so they could use the title, which they found to be highly commercial. In 1978 they hired Charles Grodin to write a script, telling him the movie 'could be about anything'. Grodin decided to use this exact situation as the premise: a Hollywood writer struggles to write a script based on a sex manual after a big studio acquires the rights. When he finished his first draft, Paramount passed on the project. The title was still used by Paramount Pictures for a 1984 teenage sex comedy (Joy of Sex (1984))
After Paramount Pictures put Charles Grodin's script in turnaround in 1978, he was free to offer it to other studios. However, since Paramount held the rights to the title 'The Joy of Sex', the film was re-titled 'Dreamers'. Columbia Pictures showed interest to produce 'Dreamers' with Peter Falk playing the leading role of the producer. But when the deal with Columbia fell through, Charles Grodin ended up pitching his screenplay to every studio several times over the course of the next seven years.
When the film was finally ready to go in front of the cameras, original lead actor Peter Falk was no longer available. Another well known comic actor had to drop out when he didn't pass his insurance physical. Walter Matthau agreed to star at the very last minute, receiving US $1 million, half his usual fee at the time for his work.
The film only received a limited release in several large cities across America. However, because of it's small US $3.5 million budget and all star cast, it was sure to make money for MGM on video cassette, cable TV, regular television and other foreign sales.
MGM initially refused to pay for the picture nor release it, because 'it was not of first-class technical quality' and 'does not reflect the screenplay'.
Actor-writer-producer Charles Grodin was inspired to write this film's screenplay, according to the 1st February 1985 edition of newspaper 'The New York Times', after he had read an article in magazine that reported that a movie studio head had become bed ridden with chronic back pain.
According to an article in the 7th June 1985 edition of the publication 'L.A. Movie Gazette' this movie had five false starts to being green-lit and took seven years to produce and get made.
'The New York Times' reported that most of the film's major lead cast on the picture worked for scale rates.
During development and raising finance the picture was perceived as being an "attack against studios and executives" according to the American Film Institute.
According to the 2nd December 1983 edition of show-business trade-paper 'Variety', actor Charles Grodin was slated to star, produce, write and co-direct the picture, which was then known as "Dreamers". In the end though, Grodin did all of these roles except direct.
Debut theatrical feature film as a producer of actor Charles Grodin. The picture remain's Grodin's first and final and only ever producing credit for a cinema movie.
Walter Matthau and Charles Grodin appeared together again in The Couch Trip (1988).
Actor Steve Martin and actress Penny Marshall both received 'special appearance' credits.
The name of the two (fictional) film sequels mentioned in the movie were "The Enunciator Part 3" and "Return of the People Eating Plants Part 4".
The titles of the films that Italian movie mogul Fabio Longio (Steve Martin) had made were "The Hidden Veil", "I Wake Up in Hell", and "Pancho and the Gladiators".