DIRECTOR CAMEO: The two mosquitoes trapped in the light of the bugzapper ("Frank, don't go towards the light!" "I can't help it - it's so beautiful!") are the voices of the co-directors, John Lasseter and Andrew Stanton.
In the bloopers shown at the end of the film, Princess Atta is shown cracking up during her scene with Hopper, ruining take after take until Hopper goes to his trailer in frustration. This is a spoof of Julia Louis-Dreyfus being known to do the same.
The tunnel in a tunnel joke was made in reference to Steve Jobs' (CEO of Pixar and Apple) plan for Apple's "store in a store". Also, the hand gestures made by Hopper were modeled after gestures made by Jobs.
When Flik is in the city, a cereal box can be seen over his right shoulder with the first half of the code written on it appearing as "A113", a reference to the animation room at California Arts University where many Pixar artists attended. This reference is common is animated films, and has been made in most of Pixar's films up to date.
Editor Lee Unkrich revealed they considered calling the film "Bug Story", but coming on the heels of Toy Story (1995), they were worried that people would expect Pixar to use the "____ Story" naming convention for all their films.
During the summer of 1994, Pixar's story department began turning their thoughts to their next film, while Toy Story (1995) was in post-production. The storyline of A Bug's Life (1998) originated in a lunchtime conversation between John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter, and Joe Ranft, the studio's head story team. Toy Story 2 (1999), Monsters, Inc. (2001), Finding Nemo (2003), and WALL·E (2008) were also conceived at this lunch. Lasseter and his story team had already been drawn to the idea of insects as characters. Insects, like toys, were within the reach of computer animation at the time due to their relatively simple surfaces. Stanton and Ranft wondered whether they could find a starting point in Aesop's fable The Ant and the Grasshopper. Walt Disney had produced his own version with a cheerier ending decades earlier in the 1934 short film The Grasshopper and the Ants (1934). In addition, Walt Disney Animation Studios had considered producing a film in the late 1980s entitled "Army Ants", that centered around a pacifist ant living in a militaristic colony, but it never fully materialized.
For the 1.33:1 video transfer, rather than pan-and-scan the original 2.35:1 theatrical image, Pixar actually re-used the original computer images, re-framed some scenes, and even to the point where they'd place characters to a different spot in the scene to fit into the 1.33:1 frame.
The casting of Hopper proved problematic. John Lasseter's top choice was Robert De Niro, who repeatedly turned the part down, as did a succession of other actors. Kevin Spacey met John Lasseter at the 68th Academy Awards ceremony and Lasseter asked Spacey if he would be interested in doing the voice of Hopper. Spacey was delighted and signed on immediately.
In the original fable "The Ant and the Grasshopper", a grasshopper squanders the spring and summer months on singing while the ants put food away for the winter; when winter comes, the hungry grasshopper begs the ants for food, but the ants turn him away. Screenwriters Andrew Stanton and Joe Ranft hit on the notion that the grasshopper could just take the food. After Stanton had completed a draft of the script, he came to doubt one of the story's main pillars - that the circus bugs that had come to the colony to cheat the ants would instead stay and fight. He felt the circus bugs were unlikable characters as liars and that it was unrealistic for them to undergo a complete personality change. Also no particularly good reason existed for circus bugs to stay with the ant colony during the second act. Although the film was already far along, Stanton concluded that the story needed a different approach. Stanton took one of the early circus bug characters, Red the red ant, and changed him into the character that would become Flik. The circus bugs, no longer out to cheat the colony, would be embroiled in a comic misunderstanding about why Flik was recruiting them. John Lasseter agreed with this new approach and comedy writers Don McEnery and Bob Shaw spent a few months at Pixar working with Stanton on further polishing.
John Lasseter assigned Andrew Stanton the job of co-director on A Bug's Life (1998); the two men worked well together and had similar sensibilities. Lasseter had found that the workday of a sole-director on a computer-animated feature was dangerous while working on Toy Story (1995). In addition, Lasseter felt it would relieve stress and the role would groom Stanton for a lead directing position of his own. Lasseter's decision was handsomely paid off, as not only Stanton went on to become one of the most visionary directors in modern-day cinema, but also production on nearly all future computer animated films can now be well-handed by two directors.
Despite being grasshoppers, the villains have more so the traits of locusts. Examples include having a way with food, flying around together in a swarm, being brown, never happen to jump around, and live in the desert.
During the bird fight scenes, Heimlich is seen as being stuck in a crevasse, and Slim tells him, "Suck it in, man!" In the preceding scene, we see them in the medical room and Heimlich is there as well, with no evidence as to how he escaped the crevasse.
Dim wasn't based on a real variety of rhinoceros beetle, but in 2016 a variety of rhinoceros beetle with a horn like his was discovered. Such discoveries of "fictional" creatures later revealed to be real have subsequently been dubbed "the Dim Effect".
A Bug's Life (1998) has the shortest development cycle of any Pixar film to date, having been in production for three years following the release of Toy Story (1995), whilst the other Pixar Films to date had been in production for at least more than that time.
Pixar's First Film to have their Logo with Luxo Jr. bouncing and squashing the Letter I, which appears after the Disney Logo at the start of the film, after their first film Toy Story (1995) didn't have that.
Shares a similar plot with the CG Animated film, "Antz (1998)". In both films, a common worker Ant with a reputation for thinking too much embarks on a journey that affects his entire colony and begins a romance with the Princess.