There was a later version released (to NBC television) that had footage not shown in theaters. In the original theatrical version, the sniper's motives were not known. In the later television version, it was revealed that the attack was done to cover an art robbery next door.
The film from Universal Pictures is considered part of the 1970s cycle of Hollywood Disaster Movies. A year later, Paramount Pictures released the similarly themed Black Sunday (1977) which instead of a sniper threat had a terrorist plot at the Super Bowl. The same 1977 year saw Universal also produce Rollercoaster (1977) with bomb caused accidents at amusement parks. Moreover, a line of dialogue in Two-Minute Warning (1976) referred to "Sudden Death" in the football game, Sudden Death (1995) also being the title of the Universal's similarly themed later 90s disaster movie where a terrorist plot threatens an ice-hockey match.
The movie was deemed too violent to show intact on broadcast television, so they re-wrote the story and added a heist element. The re-written material minimized both the main storyline and the subplots.
The film's "Two-minute Warning" title is a sports term taken from the American Gridiron National Football League. A "two-minute warning" is made when there are only two minutes of game time left at the end of the second and fourth quarters of an American football match.
Newspaper press advertisements for the re-worked television version of this movie featured a long text preamble that read: "In an action unprecedented in television history - a major motion picture has been re-filmed for its television presentation. The production has been enhanced with more than 40 minutes of new footage! We guarantee you'll thrill to the excitement and drama of this story of an arena full of fans terrorized to divert attention from a multi-million robbery!"
Most of the movie was filmed at the Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum after the 1975 American football season had ended. Game footage seen in the picture was taken from a Pac-8 college football game between Stanford (4-3-1) and USC (7-1), where Stanford won 13-10. The game was played on November 8, 1975 at the Coliseum.
Susan Backlinie appears as a loyal Los Angeles fan who flashes her shirt at the cameras (seen briefly on a television monitor). A two page article in 'Saga' magazine from July 1976 reveals a deleted scene in which she flashes her breasts at the crowd. According to this article, her character was a call-girl named 'Miss Pear Tits'.
A marketing gimmick devised by Universal Pictures to promote the film, stated that patrons were not allowed to enter theaters showing the picture once the film's football game's "two-minute warning" had started.
The notorious re-edited and re-worked television version of this movie premiered on NBC in prime-time on February 6, 1979. This version was conceived during negotiations between Universal Pictures and NBC in 1978, because NBC refused to air a film centered around a homicidal sniper. The network-television version was cut and added around 40 minutes, introducing a 30-minute art-heist robbery plot and losing around half the length of the film's original plot. This version is the most often one shown on broadcast television in the U.S. The television version of the cinema movie has never been released on DVD or home video.
Director Larry Peerce had his name removed from the television version of this movie. The director credited for this was Gene Palmer. Although Peerce's name remains in the credits of the alternate version ("A Larry Peerce-Edward S. Feldman Film"), Palmer is credited as director. Francesca Turner, who wrote the teleplay scenes and who obviously had no credit in the cinema version, was added as a co-screenwriter alongside of Edward Hume who now had a shared billing.
The production team actually contacted the National Football League about using the NFL and its team and uniforms as part of the film. NFL executives asked "What's the film about?" After they given a brief synopsis, they said that they would not bother reading the script because there was zero chance of the league ever lending any support to such a movie. Interestingly, a few years later the NFL did not object to the movie "Black Sunday" using real teams and game footage as part of its terrorism/bloodshed-set story.
The name of the sports stadium was the real-life Los Angeles Memorial Coliseum. The venue can be seen sporting Olympics Rings on its exterior wall adjacent to the arena's name. Los Angeles had unsuccessfully bid for the Olympic Games in 1976 which was the year the film was released; they were held in Montreal, Quebec. Los Angeles had hosted them in 1932, held them again in 1984, and had also unsuccessfully bid to host them in 1980. At the time the movie was made and released, Los Angeles had not yet been elected as the 1984 Olympics Host city as the vote did not occur until May 18, 1978. Four years prior to this sniper stadium disaster movie, the Palestinian terrorist group Black September held Israeli athletes hostage at the Munich 1972 Summer Olympic Games, this being the subject of the Academy Award winning documentary One Day in September (1999).
Charlton Heston joked while doing promotional work for this movie, that it was a pleasant change to be doing a modern dress movie as you got to keep your costume. The majority of Heston's roles were in lavish costume dramas and historical epics.
Penultimate film of actor Walter Pidgeon, his last being two years later in 1978's Sextette (1978). Pidgeon's character in this film has no personal name and is only ever know as "The Pickpocket". Pidgeon actually once who co-starred in a film about pickpockets called Harry in Your Pocket (1973).
David Janssen described his experience using squibs to simulate gunshots: "You won't be burned if it's done properly. You'll feel the heat, though, and if you haven't had the experience before, it'll make you apprehensive, to say the least. Some actors have gone into a momentary state of shock."