Producer Chris Columbus wanted Joe Pesci to play Myron, but he was deemed too short at 5'3 next to Arnold Schwarzenegger who is 6'2. This was despite the fact that Schwarznegger had previously appeared in two films alongside the even-shorter Danny DeVito.
In March 2001, a U.S. District Court jury in Birmingham, Michigan, ruled that 20th Century Fox stole the script idea, "Jingle All the Way", from Detroit High School biology teacher, Brian Webster. The studio was ordered to pay nineteen million dollars, later reduced to one and a half million dollars. Webster submitted the script, then named "Could This Be Christmas?", to the studio in 1994, and never received payment nor credit despite the film making one hundred twenty-nine million dollars worldwide. 20th Century Fox appealed, and the verdict was reversed, since Webster's script was submitted after the studio had already purchased a treatment (summary or outline) of what would become this movie's script.
Sinbad improvised the majority of his lines. Arnold Schwarzenegger also improvised many of his responses in his conversations with him.
Verne Troyer has an uncredited role as the shortest Santa that gets punched while on Arnold Schwarzenegger in the warehouse.
The story is based on the 1980s shopping frenzy over the Cabbage Patch dolls. However, it ended up perfectly mimicking the Tickle Me Elmo craze of Christmas 1996.
Despite the Turbo Man being a fictional product created for the movie, the toy that Myron references in the diner that he did not get as a child (and later said to be the most popular boys' toy aside from Turbo Man) is, in fact, a real toy. It is in real-life called the Johnny Seven OMA gun (OMA meaning "one man army"), as it performed seven different functions. The Johnny Seven OMA gun was produced by Deluxe Reading under their Topper Toys toyline, and released in 1964, where it became the best selling boys' toy of that year. The toy was marketed heavily on television, and the commercial went exactly as how Myron described it. The toy is no longer made, and has become a collector's item.
Filming took place in Minnesota for five weeks from April 15, 1996. At the time, it was the largest film production to ever take place in the state.
Arnold Schwarzenegger enjoyed the film, having experienced last-minute Christmas shopping himself, and was attracted to playing an "ordinary" character in a family film.
Towards the beginning, when Howard is in his office taking phone calls, while talking with his wife, he signs a contract. Arnold Schwarzenegger signed his own name during this scene.
The world premiere was held on November 16, 1996 at the Mall of America in Bloomington where parts of the film were shot. A day of events was held to celebrate the film's release and Arnold Schwarzenegger donated memorabilia from the film to the Mall's Planet Hollywood.
The Wintertainment Parade was filmed at Universal Studios, Los Angeles, in the middle of May.
The Turbo Man television show that Jamie (Jake Lloyd) watches at the beginning of the film was a parody of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers (1993).
The extra scene after the end credits was written to set the stage for a possible sequel.
Although Arnold Schwarzenegger stated that the Minnesota locals were "well-behaved" and "cooperative", Director Brian Levant often found filming "impossible" due to the scale and noise of the crowds who came to watch production, especially in the Mall of America, but overall found the locals to be "respectful" and "lovely people".
The film's release coincided with the Tickle Me Elmo craze, in which high demand for the doll during the 1996 Christmas season lead to store mobbing similar to that depicted for Turbo-Man.
The scene outside of the toy store, where the crowd pushed into the entryway, was filmed in the 7th Street Plaza, outside the old Palace Theatre in downtown St. Paul, Minnesota. The scene changes to the inside of the store, which was filmed at the Mall Of America, located in Bloomington, Minnesota, almost twenty miles away.
Arnold Schwarzenegger's agent suggested Sinbad, but the producers felt he was unsuited to the role of a villain, as it could harm his clean, family-oriented comedy act and reputation, although Sinbad felt the character would generate the audience's sympathy rather than hatred. Furthermore, he missed the audition due to his appearance with Hillary Clinton and Sheryl Crow on the USO tour of Bosnia and Herzegovina, but Chris Columbus waited for him to return to allow him to audition and, although Sinbad felt he had "messed" it up, he was given the part.
The parade was filmed at Universal Studios Hollywood, California on the New York Street set, due to safety concerns. The set was designed to resemble 2nd Avenue. The parade was shot from above by helicopters and stitched into matte shots of the real-life street. It took three weeks to film, with fifteen hundred extras being used in the scene, along with three custom-designed floats.
Minneapolis does have a winter parade every year during the Christmas season. It's known as the Holidazzle parade, but it is held in the evening, not during the day as shown in the movie.
20th Century Fox offered Arnold Schwarzenegger the project after development on a remake of Planet of the Apes (1968), which had been a longtime pet project for the actor, fell apart.
Arnold Schwarzenegger and Jim Belushi appeared in Red Heat (1988) and Last Action Hero (1993).
As Arnold Schwarzenegger only signed on for the film in February and the film was shot so quickly, only six and a half months were available for merchandising, instead of the ideal year. As such, merchandising was limited to a thirteen and a half inch replica twenty-five dollar talking Turbo Man action figure and the west coast exclusive Turbo Man Time Racer vehicle, while no tie-in promotions could be secured. Despite this, several critics wrote that the film was only being made in order to sell the toy. Chris Columbus dismissed this notion, stating that with only roughly two hundred thousand Turbo Man toys being made, the merchandising was far less than the year's other releases, such as Space Jam (1996) and 101 Dalmatians (1996).
A Pasadena, California furniture warehouse was used for Howard's fight with the Santas.
The film marked Arnold Schwarzenegger's fourth appearance as the lead in a comedy film, following Twins (1988), Kindergarten Cop (1990), and Junior (1994).
In some TV airings of the film, Chain smoking Booster's line where he says he's been "sweating like a dog in a Chinese restaurant" is removed.
The after credit scene, featured Howard's wife asking him what he got her for Christmas.
In the scene where Arnold Schwarzenegger ran out of gas on the highway, he pushed the SUV in neutral in front of the diner. This is reminiscent of Commando (1985), where he pushed his SUV in neutral to chase his daughters captors down the hill with "no brakes".
When Howard and Myron burst into the radio station, the D.J. is taking a call for the Eight Reindeer name contest. The incorrect names the contestant gives are: "Randy, Tito, and Jermaine". These are the names of three of Michael Jackson's brothers.
The extra scene after the end credits was omitted from the New Zealand VHS release.
In a complete contrast to their characters both Arnold Schwarzenegger and Rita Wilson got along very well with Phil Hartman who plays Ted, off camera. They found him very warm and friendly and considered him a delight to work with.
This film features two actors who have played a Batman villain: Arnold Schwarzenegger (who played Dr. Victor Fries/Mr. Freeze in Batman & Robin (1997)) and Richard Moll (who played Harvey Dent/Two-Face in Batman: The Animated Series (1992)).
Arnold Schwarzenegger knocks a reindeer out by punching it in the face. In Conan the Barbarian (1982), he punches a camel in the face for real.
Danny Woodburn plays Santa's Elf in this film. Woodburn also played an elf on an episode of Seinfeld (1989), as well as a two-part episode of Baywatch (1989).
In order for Howard and the mall Santa to enter the warehouse, the mall Santa has to use the password, "Jingle bells, Batman smells". Arnold Schwarzenegger appeared as himself in a photograph in Max Schrek's office in Batman Returns (1992), and he played Mr. Freeze in Batman & Robin (1997).
By late 2018, this movie would have a few more retro-fitted in joke corporate references never planned for in the original film. The Turbo Man series characters look like the Saban version of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers, which Fox owned for a period. Jake Lloyd was obviously in Fox's Star Wars: Phantom Menace, also further suitably referenced with "I am your...". Additionally, all of the Marvel comic book characters will become corporate siblings to 20th Century Fox's film catalogue, assuming the Walt Disney Company complete their intended purchase of the 20th/21st Century Fox corporate assets, as the Walt Disney Company own Marvel outright.
A puppet was used for the close-up shot of the reindeer groaning when Howard punches it in the face, and again for the close-up shot of the reindeer burping when Howard gives it beer.
When Howard is in Jamie's room apologizing, in the background on Jamie's wall is a picture of The Incredible Hulk. In 1973, Arnold Schwarzenegger's friend and fellow body builder Lou Ferrigno starred in The Incredible Hulk (1977). They also appeared together in Pumping Iron (1977), and have played Hercules in separate movies.
Harvey Korman, Laraine Newman, and Richard Moll, who appeared in the Turbo Man television show at the beginning of the film, also appeared in The Flintstones (1994), also directed by Brian Levant.
After Howard (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is caught breaking into the neighbor's house, Ted (Phil Hartman) says, "You can't bench press your way out of this one." This is a reference to Schwarzenegger's earlier years, in which he was a professional bodybuilder.
The film draws inspiration from the high demand for Christmas toys, such as the Cabbage Patch Kids and Mighty Morphin Power Rangers in the late 1980s and early 1990s, which often led to intense searching and occasional violence amongst shoppers. Randy Kornfield wrote the film's original screenplay after witnessing his in-laws go to a Santa Monica toy store at dawn in order to get his son a Power Ranger. While admitting to missing the clamor for the Cabbage Patch Kids and Power Rangers, Producer Chris Columbus experienced a similar situation in 1995 when he attempted to obtain a Buzz Lightyear action figure from Toy Story (1995). As a result, he re-wrote Kornfield's script, which was accepted by 20th Century Fox.