Director Robert Collector left the production before the film's editing was completed, and requested that his name not appear in the credits.

The film has a notably "misty" look, blurring both colors and detail. Though "Nightflyers" has never been released on DVD, Blu-Ray or HD-streaming, this was a deliberate choice by the producers, director and cinematographer. They wanted to depict a "dream-like" state in an era before high-definition home video was even possible, much less affordable.

In 2017, a pilot for a possible TV series based on Nightflyers was being developed by Syfy. The series would be based on the 1987 film, with Robert Jaffe, who wrote the screenplay for the film, serving as one of the producers. The script for the pilot was written by Jeff Buhler. George R.R. Martin will not be involved in the production or writing for the new series, since his contract with HBO contains an exclusivity clause. The series will be shot in Ireland and will premiere in July 2018; the producer will be Daniel Cerone. On December 6, 2017 Jodie Turner-Smith was announced as being cast as Melantha Jhirl. George R. R. Martin expressed his enthusiasm for the casting on his journal, and pointed out that it more accurately represents that character in the novella than the film did, which cast a Caucasian actor. On January 4, 2018 it was reported that Netflix will co-produce the show and hold first run-rights outside of the United States.

The film grossed $1,149,470 when it was released.

The film was released on VHS, Betamax, and LaserDisc in 1988 by International Video Entertainment.

The movie is based on novella by George R.R. Martin that appears in a 1985 short story collection. Originally written in 1980, the 23,000-word novella was published by Analog Science Fiction and Fact. In 1981, at the request of his editor at the time, James Frenkel, Martin expanded the story into a 30,000-word piece, which was published by Dell Publishing together with Vernor Vinge's True Names as part of their Binary Star series. In the extended version, Martin supplied additional backstory on the various characters, and named several secondary characters which were not named in the original version. According to Martin, writer/producer Robert Jaffe probably adapted his script from the shorter novella version, since all of the secondary characters had different names than the ones he chose in the expanded version.

Annabel Brooks replaced Bianca Jagger for the character of Eliza after one day.

Catherine Mary Stewart played a character who was black in the source novella.