Third filmed adaptation of a Peter Benchley novel after Jaws (1975) and The Deep (1977). Movie versions of Benchley novels became popular in Hollywood for a brief time during the mid to late 1970s due to the box-office success of Jaws (1975), itself producing three sequels, which included Jaws 2 (1978) made during this period.
The filming location for "The Island", the secret modern pirate island setting, was the volcanic island of Antigua in the West Indies. Key location filming on this island took place at a region known as Indian Creek. Here, huts, trails, and a village were constructed in a mango grove, to create the pirates' hideaway society.
In the film's story, the pirates are descendants of the French Buccaneers of Hispaniola. The secret enclave of them has been in existence since it was established by Jean-David Nau aka François l'Olonnais (c. 1635 - c. 1668) during the seventeenth century. L'Olonnais was a real life pirate who was active in the Caribbean Sea during the 1660s. The pirate leader played by David Warner is also called Jean-David Nau, named after their legendary ancestor.
The person played by Michael Caine is called Blair Maynard. The character has the same last name as the Royal Navy Captain Robert Maynard R.N. (c. 1684 - January 4, 1751), First Lieutenant of the HMS Pearl, who killed the legendary pirate Blackbeard in a fight. Such a connection is referred to in the film's story when the pirates make such an association with the same last names.
The fictional vessel, the United States Coast Guard cutter (USCGS) "New Hope", was portrayed by the real life USCGC, the "Dauntless" (WMEC-624). This movie is one of two films that she has appeared, the other being Licence to Kill (1989). Coast Guard cutter USCGC Dauntless (WMEC 624) used to deploy out of Florida, but now is home ported in Galveston, Texas.
American film debut of Australian actress Angela Punch McGregor. Director Michael Ritchie cast McGregor after he saw her in the Australian film Newsfront (1978) where she had recently won the Australian Film Institute's AFI Award for Best Actress in a Supporting Role.
The main movie poster of this Peter Benchley filmed adaptation featured an arm and hand protruding from the sea clenching a pirate's knife. A similar shot appears in the final sequence of the film of Peter Benchley's The Deep (1977) where an arm and hand rise from the sea clinching a piece of treasure.
This film was the second adaptation from a Benchley novel, made by Jaws (1975) producers, David Brown and Richard D. Zanuck, that film having been the first. That movie had been a box-office hit, but this film was a box-office flop. The Island (1980) was the third and final Benchley related movie that Zanuck and Brown produced, as the pair had previously also made Jaws 2 (1978).