When the children first meet Count Olaf and Jim Carrey says, "Wait, give me that last line again", was not actually in the script, it was Carrey staying in character and wanting to try it again, but they kept the cameras rolling and felt it worked the way it happened.
During production, Liam Aiken grew four and a half inches (11.4 centimeters), requiring adjustments to his costume throughout. By the end of the movie, he is visibly taller than Emily Browning, who portrayed his older sister.
In the film, Klaus (Liam Aiken) house burns to the ground. During the premiere, Liam got word that his house was on fire.
After scouring ballet schools looking for a girl to play Violet Baudelaire, Casting Director Avy Kaufman was exercising at the gym when she spotted Emily Browning on television, and decided to get her for an audition.
It is the first Nickelodeon movie to win an Academy Award, which was for Best Make-up and Hairstyling.
Tim Burton was attached to direct at some point, with Johnny Depp playing Count Olaf and Glenn Close playing Aunt Josephine. When Tim Burton left the project, Johnny Depp left as well. Brad Silberling replaced Glenn Close, feeling that Meryl Streep would be better for the role. Streep accepted the role of Aunt Josephine upon the request of her daughter, a huge fan of the books.
Violet tries to sign the marriage document with her left hand and Count Olaf says "Right hand please". This is a reference to the book in which Violet does sign the document with her left hand, after which Justice Stauss declares the marriage invalid, since she did not sign it in her "own hand".
Jim Carrey was very excited at the opportunity of working with Billy Connolly, and even more excited at the opportunity of working with Meryl Streep.
The silhouettes of the Baudelaire parents are actually the silhouettes of Production Designer Rick Heinrichs and Director Brad Silberling's wife, Amy Brenneman.
The movie was entirely filmed on soundstages, even the "exterior" scenes, which involved three hundred sixty degree sets and lots of bluescreens.
The twins playing Sunny were genuinely terrified of Jim Carrey in his Count Olaf make-up.
Director Brad Silberling describes the end credits as the Baudelaire children's dream (as they were sleeping in the last scene) of restless pursuit of Count Olaf. He also admits that the animations for the credits were finished one week before the movie's premiere.
Originally, Director Brad Silberling wanted Sunny to be pure CGI. While he eventually used real babies for the part, at least four of Sunny's scenes have a CGI baby because they would be impossible or dangerous for a real child to do. Among these are shots of Sunny hanging on to a table by her teeth, and catching a spindle with her mouth, and the scene where she is entangled with the Incredibly Deadly Viper.
Each Baudelaire orphan has one major difference between their movie costume and flaw in their wardrobe as described in the books. Klaus, in the books, is nearly blind without his glasses, while in the movie, they are only needed for reading. Sunny, in the books hated wearing a pink dress, but in the film, her dress had a lot of pink in it. Violet, in the book, was unable to put braids in her hair because they would not stay together, but in the movie, she has braids nearly the entire time.
Filming stopped on several occasions after one of the twins playing Sunny (Shelby Hoffman and Kara Hoffman) fell asleep.
The beginning of the film features a false-start opening sequence called "The Littlest Elf". The sequence was created in CGI, but designed to resemble the stop-motion animated children's specials common in the 1960s and '70s, most famously by Rankin-Bass.
Triplets were originally cast to play the role of Sunny Baudelaire. But when the trio developed stage fright and separation anxiety, and would do nothing but cry, they were replaced by twins Shelby Hoffman and Kara Hoffman.
The film had a sequel planned, but sadly never got off the ground, even though Jim Carrey was on-board from the beginning. The movie was rebooted into a Netflix series with Neil Patrick Harris taking on the role of "Count Olaf".
The train scene is full of cameos from the books. First, the store is the "Last Chance", as seen in Book 8, the Hostile Hospital. The man working there is reading the newspaper "The Daily Punctillio", as seen in Book 7, the Vile Village, and on. Also, the headline reads "Orphans to Blame", which is in the books as well. The window of the Last Chance advertises "Parsley Soda", as seen in Book 6, the Ersatz Elevator. Finally, the magazine Olaf reads advertises a Veritably French Diner, which has the mysterious initials V.F.D.
Director Brad Silberling promised to stay as true to Tim Burton's dark gothic style (as well as the style of the books) so much that he even considered keeping Burton on as a producer, or creative consultant.
At the end of the movie, the children receive a letter. When turning it over, it reads: "Groeten uit Antwerpen", which translates from Dutch as "Greetings From Antwerp".
During the final act of the film, the play preformed by Count Olaf, "The Marvelous Marriage" is written by a man named Al Funcoot. Al Funcoot is an anagram of Count Olaf.
Industrial Light & Magic did over five hundred visual effects shots for this movie.
The book's ending of "The Wide Window" is as follows: after rescuing the orphans from the leeches (and drowning Aunt Josephine), Count Olaf, still disguised as Captain Sham, would return to the dock, where Mr. Poe and the Person of Indeterminable Gender are waiting. Olaf seems to have won, but Sunny bites his peg leg with great force, causing it to crack open and reveal his real leg. Mr. Poe would then stand up to Olaf, but the villain quickly runs away with his henchman, leaving Poe and the Baudelaires locked up behind them.
Some of the chores seen on the list of chores given to the Baudelaires by Count Olaf: 1. Fix the rear porch so it is back to code, 2. Dust and clean all the very important pictures of myself, 3. Clean the staircase, 4. Reupholster the living room sofa, 5. Dust and polish the wood furniture throughout the house, 6. Do all the laundry and make sure you separate the whites, the colors, and the polyesters (make sure to take special care with my costumes and delicate), 7. Iron all the clothes, 8. Sew buttons on clothes that are missing them, 9. Clean mirrors above my makeup table taking care that there are no streaks, 10. Wash the steps on the porch, 11. Prune trees in the front yard, and not to mention, 12. Prepare a delicious dinner for myself and my troupe.
The mysterious initials V.F.D., which appear throughout the books, are hidden in the end credits on drawings of zeppelins hovering over the city.
When looking at Aunt Josephine's photo album, the Baudelaires stumble across a picture of the society, of which their parents and family members were a part. In the top right-hand side of the picture, a person's face is partially blurred out, though the appearance seems to be that of Count Olaf.
Many scenes of Sunny talking were actually partly virtual. The lower part of the face was replaced and tracked onto the real face.
When Klaus (Liam Aiken) finds a spyglass in his father's desk, there is a box of green cigarettes lying beside it, labelled "VFD". This is a reference to the book series (specifically Book the Tenth), in which Sunny uses Verdant Flammable Devices (mistaken for green cigarettes) to signal her siblings. Book the Tenth also mentions that the Baudelaires' father had the same devices hidden in his desk.
According to the letter the children receive at the end of the film, the Baudelaire Mansion is at 23 Prospero Place, Boston, Massachusetts.
The duck that nearly gets a stove dropped onto it is well known to American audiences as the Aflac Duck. He's the mascot for the American insurance company Aflac. Their ads feature a pair of people discussing Aflac insurance, but being unable to remember the company's name while he tries to shout it out, but simply sounds like a quacking duck. Paramount Pictures and Aflac also ran a series of movie tie-in ads.
In the car scene, Count Olaf is in the "Last Chance General Store". He is holding up a newspaper to his face, The back of the paper reads "Veritable French Diner". This can be shortened as "VFD", the secret organization used as a McGuffin throughout the book series.
The leeches were designed based on the drawing of them featured in "The Wide Window".
Sunny has four lines without any subtitles when you know what she's saying, and two lines without subtitles where you can't understand her.
In the book, it is in fact Violet who makes the grappling hook to rescue Sunny. This also occurs before, rather than during, the performance of "The Marvelous Marriage".
This movie was filmed and released before the last three books of the series came out.
The movie has elements from the first three books, "The Bad Beginning", "The Reptile Room", and "The Wide Window".
In the stairwell where we first meet Count Olaf, there is a portrait of Olaf in Shakespearian garb, reaching out with his hand. This is almost an exact duplicate of a picture of John Barrymore playing "Hamlet".
Two weeks before the end of shooting, Director of Photography Emmanuel Lubezki had to leave due to work commitments for The New World (2005). Robert Yeoman was brought in for a shot in the last half of the third act (The Wide Window). Yeoman was given a special thanks in the credits.
In the train scene, the back window of Count Olaf's car has a bobble head doll decoration. The doll is a replica of The Littlest Elf, which was introduced in the false-start sequence at the beginning of the film. Sunny subsequently cannibalizes The Littlest Elf's head and Violet incorporates it into her train track switch invention.
A snippet of the theme from Edward Scissorhands (1990) can be heard in the film's trailer.
Cinematographer Emmanuel Lubezki chose a specific color palette backdrop for the major locations in the film: Count Olaf's house (The Bad Beginning) uses green, black, and gray. Uncle Monty's house (The Reptile Room) uses green, brown, and yellow. Aunt Josephine's House (The Wide Window) uses blue and black.
The snakes at Uncle Monty's (Billy Connelly) house were a combination of real snakes and animatronic models (enhanced with computer graphics imagery).
Director Brad Silberling admitted in the director's commentary that in some scenes the stand-ins for Kara and Shelby Hoffman, the Knight babies, often appeared on camera instead of the original twins (but with their faces covered slightly).
When Count Olaf locks the orphans in the car, you can briefly see the words, "Last Chance" painted on the slanted roof. The Last Chance General Store was featured in the eighth book, "The Hostile Hospital".
The car driven by Mr. Poe (Timothy Spall) is a Tatra 603. Built during the Cold War in Czechoslovakia, it was designed as a limousine for Communist Party officials and VIPs. It was first designed in 1955. The model in the film is from 1968-1975.
The 1960 Imperial limousine and the Tatra automobiles ended up in Paul's Junkyard in Lancaster, California.
The strange, menacing-looking engine in the railroad crossing scene very strongly resembles Pennsylvania T-1 4-4-4-4, an experimental engine built in 1942 by the Baldwin Locomotive Works, and used exclusively by the Pennsylvania Railroad. All of the real T-1's were sold for scrap by the early 1950s.
Because the train scene was filmed on a forced-perspective set, Industrial Light & Magic did something called "lattice deformations "to squeeze the computer-generated train (including the smoke) onto the forced-perspective tracks.
The Visual Effects Experts studied footage of the 2003 Atlantic hurricane season to accurately depict Hurricane Herman.
The eye is the symbol of the VFD, the secret organization in the "Series of Unfortunate Events" saga, whose members include Count Olaf, Uncle Monty, Aunt Josephine, and the Baudelaire children's parents. The eye symbol appears in various locations all over the film, especially in Count Olaf's mansion. Spyglasses and circular windows are also symbols associated with the VFD that appeared in this film The spyglass appeared in A Series of Unfortunate Events (2017).
At the house of Count Olaf, one of the walls of the dining room is decorated with his portrait. The portrait is a parody on Cecil Beaton's photograph of Maria Callas.
While discussing the importance of grammar, Captain Sham (Jim Carrey) tells Aunt Josephine (Meryl Streep), "It's the whole ball of wax, the entire kit and kaboodle." In The Truman Show (1998), Carrey used these same phrases while making purchases at a newspaper stand. In two different scenes, the salesman asks "Will that be all for you, Truman?", and in each scene, he replies with one of those two phrases.
"The Littlest Elf" had appeared in the Unfortunate Series novel "The Vile Village".
Curdled Cave, just as the other significant structures in the story, is constructed with a hidden image of the eye as well. It slowly appeared as the camera moved over the entrance.
Early in pre-production, Scott Rudin was attached to produce this movie, with Barry Sonnenfeld as director. Rudin later left the project over "budgetary conflicts", and Sonnenfeld left soon after. However, both are still credited as Executive Producers.
According to the illustrations in the original books, Violet wears a dress with the V-cuffed lower sleeves (a very common attire in space operas), Klaus wears a sweater with a button-down shirt underneath, and Sunny wears a small dress. The orphans' costumes in the movie are noticeably different.
Animation Supervisor Colin Brady used his baby daughter for designing Sunny Baudelaire in computer graphics imagery.
Helena Bonham Carter and Timothy Spall appeared in the Harry Potter film franchise.
Thomas Newman previously composed the score for the Meryl Streep series Angels in America (2003).
The Tatra's reel-to-reel tape machine is a miniature Nagra Kudelski, a brand very familiar to sound recordists.
In 2002, Barry Sonnenfeld was hired to direct, but left. He produced and directed a few episodes of A Series of Unfortunate Events (2017).
Sleepy Hollow (1999) and The Night of the Hunter (1955) were influences on the film.
Working with infants required some scenes involving Sunny Baudelaire to be performed by an animatronic puppet or a CGI baby.
One of six films that Jude Law appeared in 2004, with the other films being Alfie (2004), The Aviator (2004), Closer (2004), I Heart Huckabees (2004), and Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow (2004).
Helena Bonham Carter (Beatrice Baudelaire) and Meryl Streep (Aunt Josephine) appeared in Disney live-action movies. Carter in Alice in Wonderland (2010), Cinderella (2015), and Alice Through the Looking Glass (2016), and Streep in Into the Woods (2014).
The floor in the Reptile Room at Uncle Monty's house is made up of interlocking lizard-shaped tiles, fashioned after M.C.Escher's "Lizard" tesselated print.
The film cast includes two Oscar winners: Meryl Streep and Dustin Hoffman; and two Oscar nominees: Jude Law and Helena Bonham Carter.
According to the director's commentary, the end credit sequence is meant to be the Beaudelaires dreaming about being hunted by Count Olaf, as the children had fallen asleep in Mr. Poe's car in the ending scene. The sequence itself was completed mere weeks before the film's premiere.
Character Montgomery Montgomery (name abbreviated to "Monty"), an expert herpetologist, appears in scene with a Python (a constrictor snake) over his shoulders and around his neck, a reference to British comedy group Monty Python.