At the police station, the officers talk about the metaphysical proof of precognition. Chief Anderton (Tom Cruise) rolls a red ball along a table to demonstrate the law of cause and effect to Detective Witwer (Colin Farrell). All of this is an allusion to the famous claim of philosopher David Hume (1711-1776), that by observing billiard balls you can actually demonstrate that cause and effect does not exist but is merely a habitually created fiction of the mind.
The adaptation of the short story "The Minority Report" by Philip K. Dick was originally planned as a sequel to Total Recall (1990) by writers Ronald Shusett and Gary Goldman (later joined by Robert Goethals). The setting was changed to Mars with the Precogs being people mutated by the Martian atmosphere, as established in the first film. The main character was also changed to Douglas Quaid, the man played by Arnold Schwarzenegger. The project eventually fell apart but the writers, who still owned the rights to the original story, rewrote the script, removing the elements from "Total Recall". This script was eventually tossed out when writer Jon Cohen was hired in 1997 to start the project over from scratch. The only original element from the early script which made it to the final film is the sequence in the car factory, an idea that Steven Spielberg loved.
A "Minority Report" in real life is a legislative procedure whereby a minority of a committee (usually members from the minority party) offer an official alternative to a piece of legislation. Because of the way rules of decorum work out, minority reports are very rarely successful (as in this film).
From the very beginning, Steven Spielberg wanted Greta (Dr. Eddie's assistant) to sing something by ABBA, but Peter Stormare suggested that she should sing something else, to make the scene more absurd. The Swedish children's song "Små grodorna" ("The Small Frogs") was chosen by Stormare. This song is usually sung on Midsummer Eve parties in Sweden.
The tiny in-ear cellphones used throughout the movie (most noticeably by Pre-Crime Director Lamar Burgess (Max von Sydow) in the film's final scenes) are actually Bang and Olufsen earphones without the connection cables.
Jan de Bont was a credited producer because he was originally going to direct the film. Steven Spielberg claimed that De Bont did no work on the film once Spielberg joined the project and publicly questioned whether he deserved the credit.
The part of Danny Witwer was originally American and with a father who died outside a church in Maryland, but Steven Spielberg didn't think Colin Farrell could fully shake his Irish accent, so the character was made Irish.
During the scenes that show Anderton manipulating the PreCogs' visions of future crimes, the music in the background is Franz Schubert's "Symphony #8 in B Minor"--more commonly known as the "Unfinished" symphony.
This film shows technology that was not yet widely available at the time it came out, but is at the time of this writing, July 2015. Gesture control, eye and fingerprint recognition are some of the things available to the public now shown in the film. Even touch screen (capacitative touch) was introduced on a large scale through the first Apple iPhones in 2007.
Wristwatches in the film: Tom Cruise wears two different timepieces, an Omega Speedmaster X33 digital at the Baltimore public pool when measuring underwater endurance (the X33 is no longer in production due to disappointing sales). The digital Bvlgari with LCD dial hasn't been invented yet.
Steven Spielberg turned to Lexus for some ideas in designing a car for the future, but the bulk of the designs were done by Harald Belker, who has also designed vehicles featured in Armageddon (1998) and xXx (2002).
Elements from the original short story that the screenplay is based on included more details about the Pre-Crime Unit. The data was double-checked by the military to ensure that the Pre-Crime officers would not be bribed by any future murderer to conceal the evidence. The Pre-Cogs worked on different time levels which accounted for any minor discrepancies that their premonitions had. They mumbled and their incoherent words were deciphered in audio tapes. Their data could be fabricated and in the story this is exactly what happens since the first vision is revealed to be a fake one. The screenplay however omits all these details in favor of a visual display of the precognitions.
When Gideon says that the contained prisoners are "busy, busy, busy," this may be a reference to "Cat's Cradle" by Kurt Vonnegut, Jr.: "'Busy, busy, busy,' is what we Bokononists whisper whenever we think of how complicated and unpredictable the machinery of life really is."
The scissors killing in the beginning is a reference to Dead Again (1991) and the guy finding his wife having an affair with another guy and hiding from them so they don't see him is a reference to Malice (1993). Both movies were written by Scott Frank.
Spencer Treat Clark played the role of Sean, at age eleven, in a brief dream sequence meant to be placed immediately after Anderton is put into containment. The entire scene was deleted. Nevertheless, theatrical prints of the film have him in the cast list, in the end titles.
Steven Spielberg used the town of Gloucester, Virginia, as a location for a portion of the film. Though the crew was in the town for a little over a month shooting, the scenes are only shown in the movie for a minute or so. The town was given no acknowledgment in the credits.
On the animated cereal box--designed and animated by Kurtz and Friends Animation--from which John Anderson (Tom Cruise) is eating, when he's at home watching holographic videos of his son Sean (the fictitious cereal Pine & Oats) they're offering inside each box, one of each of the 70 magnets to collect from E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982). Shown "in actual size" are circular magnets representing; the iconic image of Elliot riding his bike in front of the moon, as well as one of a portrait of E.T. himself. E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial (1982) was a blockbuster hit for Steven Spielberg.
This is the first movie Steven Spielberg directed for 20th Century Fox. The studio, which handled theatrical distribution rights in North America, financed the film along with DreamWorks, which handled theatrical distribution rights in all other countries outside of North America. DreamWorks released the film on DVD and VHS in North America, while Fox handled DVD and VHS rights worldwide.
When Anderton and Agatha are at the mall, right after the little girl asks her mom to buy a balloon, the police are looking for them and just barely miss them. In the background of that scene, a billboard reads "See what others don't," an ability Agatha has that the police don't.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
In the scene where John kidnaps Agatha, Danny Witwer (Colin Farrell) asks, "How much time do we have?" (asking how much time until John commits the murder). A Pre-Crime Officer responds, "51 minutes 30 seconds." This is exactly how much time remains until the end of the movie as well (until the credits begin to roll).
At the climax, Anderton tells Burgess that he has two choices: choose not to commit the murder, thereby discrediting precrime; or commit the murder and go to jail but ultimately vindicate the system he created. This is in fact the choice Burgess makes in the original short story. Burgess at first realizes that the precogs prediction was wrong, and is able to choose not to commit the murder. However, when his would-be victim announces his intention to publicize this fact to discredit precrime, Burgess decides to kill him anyway--thus apparently proving the precogs correct and preserving the system he believes in.
Similarities to The Fugitive (1993): 1. Like Richard Kimble, John Anderton is framed for a crime he didn't commit/hasn't yet committed. 2. Anderton and Kimble are both recognized on the subway by another passenger, who sees his picture in the newspaper. 3. Both consult a colleague (Kathy Wahlund, Iris Hineman) to unravel a vital clue. 4. Both are pursued by a police officer (Gerard, Witwer), and at one point must navigate their way through a crowded public place (shopping mall, St. Patrick's Day Parade). 5. Kimble dyes his hair and creates a fake ID to sneak back into his place of work for vital information. Anderton has his eyes replaced to sneak back into pre-crime. 6. Both discover they were set up by a colleague (Nichols, Burgess) to cover up his own criminal activity. Both confront that man at a banquet held in his honor.
At the climax, Tom Cruise confronts Max von Sydow in a secluded area, wearing a dark hood while presenting him with a metaphysical dilemma. This mirrors the opening of the movie The Seventh Seal (1957), in which Bengt Ekerot, playing a dark hooded incarnation of Death, confronts von Sydow's character.
Despite being a critically acclaimed film, the main premise that Anderton views himself in the future murdering someone is itself a fundamental paradox, the reason being if you viewed yourself killing someone in the near future, with this knowledge, you would prevent yourself from doing so. However, the crux of the film is to ask the question if you really could prevent yourself from doing so. In the act of trying to prevent himself from committing the crime, Anderton does, in fact, commit the crime.