A number of pieces of the set, including those used for the rooftop chase, were sold to the production of The Matrix (1999) at the end of shooting.
There were many deliberate anachronisms to give the viewer a feeling of confusion about the time period of the film.
New Line Cinema forced Alex Proyas to include the opening narration by Kiefer Sutherland, which gives away several plot reveals. Proyas objected to it, saying it was unnecessary, and he subsequently removed the narration from his director's cut.
Has one of the shortest Average shot lengths (ASL) of any modern narrative production at 1.8 seconds. This means there is a cut almost every 2 seconds.
On the DVD commentary, co-writer David S. Goyer reveals two possible explanations for the origin of the inhabitants of Dark City. In his original story outline, director Alex Proyas believed the humans to have been passengers aboard an interstellar spaceship which was captured by the Strangers. Goyer favors a more spiritual approach, supposing that the humans are in fact dead and that Dark City is a sort of purgatory made up of people the Strangers have selected or abducted from different eras in history.
Alex Proyas got the idea for the buildings changing and growing while the crew was moving pieces of the set around during filming of The Crow (1994).
The name of Kiefer Sutherland's character, Daniel Schreber, is the same as that of an author of an early twentieth century book entitled "Memoirs of My Nervous Illness". He wrote it while he was institutionalized for schizophrenia, originally as an argument for his release. The book has become standard reading for many psychiatrists and psychologists, and many of the theories of both Sigmund Freud and Carl Gustav Jung were based on it (Freud never actually met Schreber, though). "Dark City" borrows heavily from the concept of "fleetingly-improvised men" which are found within Schreber's "Memoirs".
An over-sized version of Dr. Schreber's syringe (roughly a meter long) was built for the close up shots of the needle being extended so that its surface details would be visible in the focal plane of the camera lens.
An earlier draft of the script had Dr. Schreber (Kiefer Sutherland) being skinned alive during the finale.
Roger Ebert called this movie the Best Film of 1998. He recorded a special audio commentary track for the dvd release of the movie.
Mr. Sleep is played by twins, a girl (Satya Gumbert) and her brother (Noah Gumbert). Both were fond of The Rocky Horror Picture Show (1975), and they (and the rest of the cast and crew) were frequently entertained by Richard O'Brien, who played Mr. Hand in this film and Riff Raff in "Rocky Horror", with recitations from that film.
The movie appears to take place in the late 1950's/early 1960's. Cars and clothing appear almost exclusively from that period. Also, in the flashback of Keifer Sutherland's character being forced to erase his own memory he's seen wearing an old-style medical smock favored by doctors of the period. This reinforces the idea that he was a kidnapped psychiatrist being used by the aliens to manipulate human memory.
(at around 10 mins) The music which Inspector Bumstead is playing on his accordion in his very first scene in the movie is a song written in 1939 by a Polish-Jewish composer Jerzy Petersburski which was originally called "Mala blekitna chusteczka" ("Little Blue Handkerchief"). The lyrics were later translated (with slight differences) to many languages and it became especially popular in Soviet WWII era under the title "Siniy Platochek" ("Blue scarf"). The song lyrics tell about an unhappy, lonely man who wanders aimlessly around the world thinking about his lost love which is gone forever. His only memento of his beloved one is the blue handkerchief from the title. As the movie is about our memories, the song actually fits the movie mood quite well.
Although Alex Proyas wrote the original screenplay, very little of the plot was retained (besides the fact that the lead is wanted for murders) . Lem Dobbs wrote the final draft and reformed the plot as it appears in the film with the exception of the special effects sequences. Although the powers of the Strangers were alluded to they would never actually be depicted . David Goyer was hired to write the shooting script when they had secured a bigger budget. He added all the action scenes that appear in the film and which show explicitly the operating background of the Dark City.
The filmmakers cite 1940s-50s films noir (particularly The Maltese Falcon (1941)) and the sci-fi features Metropolis (1927) The Twilight Zone (1959) and Akira (1988) as an influence on the film.
The number of the motel room in which John Murdoch wakes up at the start of the film is 614. In the Bible John Chapter 6, Verse 14 talks about the coming of the Saviour.
Despite the fact that this was filmed in Super 35, "Filmed in Panavision" is listed in the end credits.
The main character, John Murdoch, shares the name, and the quest, of a Scottish liberal in the 1870s and 1880s. The Scottish Murdoch led a major campaign for Scottish farmers to own their own land.
The song from the film's trailer is "Sleep Now" by Hughes Hall. The song was also used in the trailer for Full Moon's 1998 horror movie "Talisman" that was produced by legendary B-movie filmmaker Charles Band.
In his Bluray commentary for The Crow (1994), Alex Proyas recollected that he had the idea for Dark City in his head while filming The Crow. He later stated, in an unrelated moment, that he and Brandon Lee would often take breaks from filming (to a local cinema) and would talk about future projects that they would have liked to have done together after filming on The Crow was complete. One can then assume that Brandon Lee would have played the lead character of John Murdoch in Dark City, Alex Proyas' next film, if his mortal accident hadn't have happened.
American heavy metal band Iced Earth wrote a song titled "Dark City" that is directly inspired from the movie. The song is from their 2011 release "Dystopia" and features the lyrics, "Experimenting to understand the human soul, endangered they'll fade away" and "Fill our heads with false identity, synchronizing our confusion".
This was the last movie watched by Argentine rock idol Gustavo Cerati before he suffered a stroke that left him in a coma for four years, which resulted in his death.