(at around 1h 29 mins) While "Sweet Home Alabama" by Lynyrd Skynyrd is playing in the background, Garland Greene (Steve Buscemi) says: "Define irony: a bunch of idiots dancing around on a plane to a song made famous by a band that died in a plane crash." On October 20, 1977 Lynyrd Skynyrd's plane crashed. It was the model Convair 240.
(at around 1h 35 mins) The Las Vegas scenes were filmed at the legendary Sands Hotel immediately prior to its demolition in late 1996. When the production team heard about the city's intentions to raze the historic landmark, they immediately scheduled a multiple camera setup to take advantage of the rare event, which is what you actually see in the movie.
The Jailbird airplane used during flight scenes in the film had a series of owners, both military and private. It was sold on December 2003 to All West Freight Inc. in Delta Junction, Alaska. On August 1, 2010, it crashed into Mount Healy within Denali National Park in Alaska killing all three fight crew.
During set ups, Nicolas Cage lifted weights off camera to maintain the physique he had already attained for the film. Entertainment Tonight filmed a report on the film during filming and caught Cage working out between takes.
In an alternate version shown on ABC, an extended scene of Malloy's tirade after learning that fellow DEA Agent Simms was killed is featured. Malloy went on to explain how he met Simms early in his career and explained the motivation to shoot the plane down with no questions asked.
Don Simpson reportedly hated the film's concept; when he and Jerry Bruckheimer ended their longtime producing partnership, Simpson was happy to relinquish any ties to the film, while Bruckheimer got the green light from BV to begin filming for a summer 1997 release. The film was therefore unaffected by Simpson's death in January 1996.
In the trailer for this movie, the flying scene where the 2 AH-1 Cobras escort Jailbird 1 during their landing in the Las Vegas strip included the dialog "Where are they going to land this thing?" spoken by one of the Cobra pilots, and the response by John Cusack's character: "How about the blackjack tables". Neither dialog was included in the final cut.
Arnold Schwarzeneggger, Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Kurt Russell, Jean Claude Van Damme, Steven Seagal, Dolph Lundgren, Johnny Depp, William Baldwin, Stephen Baldwin, Keanu Reeves, Brad Pitt, and Tom Cruise were considered for the part of Cameron Poe.
Poe, Nicolas Cage's character would have been held by police until MP's (military police) were able to take him into custody, assuming he hadn't retired, he could have been subjected to a military court if the civilian court refused to try him.
Composer Mark Mancina had to leave the project in the middle of scoring it due to scheduling conflicts with Speed 2: Cruise Control (1997) which was slated to open at the same time as this film in June 1997. Trevor Rabin, who was already on board working closely with Mancina co-writing some music shortly before Mancina left completed the score on his own. They do share co-composing credit.
Gary Oldman was the first choice to play Cyrus "The Virus" Grissom. Tim Robbins, Ed Harris, William Hurt, Michael Madsen, John Travolta, Kevin Bacon, Michael Keaton, Alec Baldwin, George Clooney, Richard Dreyfuss, Michael Douglas, Rutger Hauer, Peter Weller, James Gandolfini, Tom Sizemore, Ron Perlman, Sean Penn and Mickey Rourke were also considered.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
After the fire truck chase sequence at the end, Cyrus "The Virus" would have been killed instantly when the ladder hit the small bridge according to a technical advisor on the film. He would have at the very least been unconscious when his head was subsequently smashed.