The success of "New Jack City" got writer Barry Michael Cooper's script for "Sugar Hill" attention in Hollywood. With Wesley Snipes already attached, it seemed like a home run, but none of the major studios were willing to touch the material due to its bleak nature. The script was eventually picked up and financed by indie production company Beacon Communications.

Warner Bros., Miramax Films and TriStar Pictures all passed on handling this film, before Twentieth Century Fox picked up the domestic distribution rights.

Wesley Snipes was paid US $2.5 million dollars for the lead role - his biggest payday at the time.

After appearing in a string of action films, Wesley Snipes wanted to take on a different, more dramatic role. Having worked with screenwriter Barry Michael Cooper on "New Jack City", he read the script and was immediately drawn to the central role.

Was once titled "Harlem" before going into production.