The movie was supposed to include the famous Colombian actress Sofía Vergara, who played an airplane hijacker. But after the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack, the scene where Vergara would hijack a plane was scratched from the movie. Moreover, scenes which might be considered unpatriotic have been excluded.
The film was originally scheduled to be released on October 5, 2001, but it was postponed due to its terrorism theme and eventually released on Friday, February 8, 2002.
In an interview on Howard Stern in 2014, actor Bill Hader admits to being Arnold Schwarzenegger's production assistant (PA) on Collateral Damage, although he was uncredited in the film.
After the terrorist attacks on the USA of 11 September 2001, Warner Bros. pulled all advertising of the film which had included a mock newspaper clipping alongside Arnold Schwarzenegger's face featuring the word "bombing" and the tagline "What would you do if you lost everything?" and its Collateral Damage (2002) movie website that had included a game called "Hunting for the Wolf". When the film was finally released in 2002, the film's poster was revamped with shot of an explosion due to the U.S. subsequent invasion of Afghanistan in the background of Arnold's face in the foreground and the film's original tagline missing. The website was completely revamped with nothing but production stills, bios, the film's synopsis, and cast and crew material. The games and other material that had been on the original version of the website were completely eliminated.
The film's setting is Colombia. However, the film was shot extensively in Mexico, as filming in Colombia was deemed to be too dangerous by the producers due to real-life rebel attacks and kidnappings in mountain and jungle regions of that country.
Well-known Vietnam War veteran and radical anti-war activist Stan Goff briefly worked as a technical military adviser on the film. He later said it was one of the worst experiences of his life and that the finished product was "yet another guns and fire-balls, macho death-cult, fascist film-myth."
An early draft of this film's screenplay set the action in Libya and involved the Gordon Brewer character tracking down the Arab terrorists who killed his family. Andrew Davis changed the story's setting (and terrorists) to Colombia.
Raymond Cruz and Miguel Sandoval previously appeared in Clear and Present Danger (1994) which also dealt with U.S. war on drugs against Colombian dealers.