James Spader admitted that he did the film for the money, as he found the script to be awful. He said, "Acting, for me, is a passion, but it's also a job, and I've always approached it as such. I have a certain manual-labourist view of acting. There's no shame in taking a film because you need some fucking money."
The early pre-release screenings of the movie were disastrous. The percentage of the audience who liked the movie fell into the mid-30's, and executive producer Mario Kassar realized the main problem was that the plot made zero sense. His solution: have the Ra character's dialogue subtitled and made into information that presented a clear storyline. When these changes were made, the subsequent test screenings produced an overwhelming majority of positive reviews, and this carried the movie into becoming one of the surprise hits of fall 1994.
Dr. Jackson (James Spader) says disdainfully that the translators have obviously been using Budge, and wonders why "they keep reprinting him". He is referring to noted Egyptologist Sir E.A. Wallis Budge (1857 - 1934).
As it happens in Mexico with most movie titles translated from English, the title for this movie was not a literal translation of the original title. Stargate became "La puerta del tiempo" which translates to "The Gate of Time". Some moviegoers mistakenly thought the far away planet the squad goes to was just a very early time in Egypt, and were seriously confused with the storyline.
High school teacher Omar Zuhdi claimed in a 1995 copyright infringement lawsuit that virtually the entire film was stolen from a manuscript he began writing as a college student. Zuhdi even had his former Egyptology professor from Johns Hopkins University vouch for him. Contrary to popular belief, Zuhdi never personally submitted his manuscript directly to Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin; he claims he submitted it only once to 20th Century Fox, who rejected it in 1984, five years before Emmerich and Devlin even met. However, the suit alleges that StudioCanal eventually acquired a copy of the manuscript, and some years later hired Emmerich and Devlin to make Stargate using Zuhdi's ideas. Zuhdi sued Emmerich, Devlin, all of the film's other producers, StudioCanal, and MGM for $140 million. In 1997, the case was settled out of court for $50,000. In 2013, Zuhdi published a novel called "Egyptscape", based on the manuscript he says he submitted to Fox.
Jaye Davidson's dislike of the attention that he received after The Crying Game (1992) made him reluctant to take the role of Ra in Stargate (1994). He didn't want to just turn the offer down so made what he expected to be an unacceptable demand of $1 million. This was accepted and he appeared.
Jaye Davidson despised the costumes he wore so much, on the last day of shooting his scenes, after hearing the final "cut", he stripped naked on the set without going to his trailer. Moreover, Davidson retired from acting after completion of this film. Since 1994, as of 2010, he has only appeared since in The Borghilde Project (2009), a 17-minute film.
Although the planet visited through the Stargate is never referred to by name throughout the length of the movie, its spin-off TV series Stargate SG-1 (1997) would later reveal the planet's name to be Abydos. While it says in the movie that the planet is located in the Kaliam Galaxy, in the TV series, its location is retroactively changed to be within the Milky Way, while travel to another galaxy necessitates a combination of eight instead of seven glyphs.
In a magazine interview, James Spader said that he found the original screenplay "awful" but also that it was so bad it actually intrigued him. He then met with Roland Emmerich, was inspired by the director's passion for the project, and decided to make the movie because he felt the energy and craziness of making such a film would translate into an exciting final film.
One of the skeptics at Daniel Jackson's lecture asks who built the Egyptian Pyramids: "Men from Atlantis? Or Martians, perhaps?" Given the plots of this movie, Stargate SG-1 (1997), and Stargate: Atlantis (2004), he was in fact, correct on both counts (if you take 'Martians' to mean 'Aliens' but not literally as 'beings from Mars').
Ra's former host's race was never identified throughout the movie. While the TV series Stargate SG-1 (1997) would later identify the entity of Ra as a Goa'uld, his former host was still never identified, but it does bear a strong resemblance to the Asgards (Thor's race)--so much so that the Stargate SG-1 Roleplaying Game would even go on to identify Ra's former host as an Asgard known as "Famrir".
Alexis Cruz (Skaara) and Erick Avari (Kasuf) are the only actors to appear in both Stargate (1994) and Stargate SG-1 (1997) as their respective characters. However Richard Kind appeared in Stargate (1994) and then plays a different character called Lucius Lavin in Stargate: Atlantis (2004).
Theatrical trailer and promo reel found on the European DVD (distributed by Kinowelt/Momentum) include extensions or snippets of additional scenes which are neither included in the theatrical cut nor in the special edition version of the film: - one of the guards appears behind Sha'uri and Daniel. This is presumably from the scene where Sha'uri gets shot - when Sha'uri is in the sarcophagus, Ra holds his hand above her - a different take of the scene where Ra punishes his guard. Here Ra is seen from the side - village scene at the beginning is longer - longer entrance of Ra at the assembly. O'Neill and his men are pushed down by the guards - extended entry to the control room. Daniel gets an explanation of how things work. You see that the conference room is directly above the control room - extended activation of the Stargate. You see more of the two technicians operating the Stargate. General West orders final evacuation. The two technicians leave the control room. O'Neill looks back at West. West leaves the conference room and the shutters close
The stargate is a system designed to open a wormhole. Wormhole is a hypothetical way of space travel called 'Rosen-Einstein bridge', named after scientists Nathan Rosen and Albert Einstein. According to them, the wormhole should be capable to unite two distant points in the universe, altering space-time laws to cross from a point to another in a brief period of time. The name 'wormhole' compares the universe to an apple, with a worm boring through it to reach a point on the other side instead of crawling the long way around on the outside. The same concept was used in Contact (1997).
When the Gate is first activated on Earth, the now-expected explosive opening of the event horizon is seen. When the Jaffa places Ra's nuclear device near the Pyramid Gate, he places it right in front of the Gate. One might assume that the next time the gate is activated, the bomb will be obliterated in the newly-forming event horizon.
It has been commented that the entire electromechanical setup in the Gate Room is essentially to power and mechanically rotate the gate; this is not the whole story. Most of the computer power in the Gate Room is there to emulate the functions of a "Dial Home Device" (DHD), although it took the series "Stargate SG-1" (1997) to make this fact clear.
In the movie "Stargate (1994)", no mention of a DHD is made, and none is shown to be present around the Pyramid Stargate. This begs the question of how the Pyramid Gate was dialed and activated; perhaps one had to turn the dial manually before the concept of the DHD was 'invented' for "Stargate:SG-1".
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
The eye glowing effect that Ra has was actually added in Post Production because the test audiences didn't think that he was alien enough. This trait was continued in Stargate SG-1 (1997) as an identifier to people who are taken over by the Goa'uld.
A stargate is a ring composed of a fictional superconductive mineral called "naqahdah", marked with 39 glyphs that operates using a combination of 7 glyphs or chrevrons to establish a space route to travel from a point to another. Using mathematical combinatorics, it implies that a single stargate can locate 77,519,922,480 places throughout the galaxy, increased to 137,231,006,679 if in the combination one of some glyphs can be re-used. Using a 8 glyphs combination for an extragalactic travel, a stargate can locate 2,480,637,519,360 places throughout the universe, increased to 5,352,009,260,481 if one or more glyphs can be re-used.
At a point of the movie, Jackson explains to the staff of U.S. Air Force that for any space travel, is necessary seven symbols to mark coordinates. Six of them indicate the destination, signing stars or constellations to locate the place where to go. The seven and last symbol indicates the point of origin to start the travel. In the TV series is added an extra glyph, which indicates the destination galaxy, however it is not needed unless they plan on going to a different galaxy.