Ken Annakin was not the first choice for directing. He was brought in after production had already begun. The original director, Richard Franklin, left over creative differences about the film's script.
This picture is one of two big movie adaptations of Gilbert & Sullivan's 'The Pirates Of Penzance' that were released in 1982/1983. This movie was first theatrically released in the USA only about six months before The Pirates of Penzance (1983).
This movie is one of few filmed adaptations of Gilbert & Sullivan's 'The Pirates Of Penzance' musical not to be known by that title, 'The Pirates Of Penzance'. Others include The Parson's Pirates (2004) and Die Piraten (1968).
The movie's main movie poster shows Christopher Atkins and Kristy McNichol wrapped-up together in a large black sack marked with the traditional pirates skull and crossbones emblem. Atkins is clearly not wearing a top and there is a suggestion that McNichol is completely topless behind the black sack, this imagery evoking the nudity and scant clothing of The Blue Lagoon (1980), Atkins' earlier box-office hit movie he appeared in with Brooke Shields.
According to Nathan Rabin in 'The Onion A.V. Club', Director Ken Annakin " . . . blames the film's commercial and critical failure on the presence / popularity of an infinitely more faithful TV version of The Pirates Of Penzance. He also blames writer Trevor Farrant, who spoke out against the film after it deviated from his script."
According to 'TV Guide', "The producers shot the film in a hurry in an attempt to beat the film version of Joseph Papp's hit Broadway staging of the operetta to the screen." They were successful, this movie was released in the USA about six months before The Pirates of Penzance (1983).
Garry McDonald plays two characters in this movie, the Sergeant of Police and the Inspector. The Sergeant character is from the 'The Pirates Of Penzance' stage musical by Gilbert and Sullivan; his Inspector character was not so much a spoof or parody of Inspector Clouseau but virtually a mimic of Peter Sellers' characterization of Clouseau.