The lit candelabras that rise from the water were not done with special effects or CGI lights: the special wicks ignited when they reached the air. This effect was done in one take and didn't work again after that.
The doll in the Phantom's lair that is supposed to resemble Emmy Rossum is not actually a wax mold. It is Emmy Rossum. The production produced a mask of her face to use on the mannequin but when they put in the fake eyes it didn't look like her. She suggested to stand in as the mannequin instead. This was done by her being made up like a doll with waxy makeup on, and her standing very, very still.
At the end of the Masquerade scene, Raoul briefly enters a circular chamber full of mirrors. This is a reference to the original Phantom of the Opera novel, in which the Phantom used the mirrored chamber as a torture chamber to drive victims insane.
In playing Christine's father in this movie, Ramin Karimloo becomes the first actor to have played all 3 of Christine's loves. Her father in the movie version, and both Raoul and the Phantom on the stage.
Emmy Rossum (Christine Daae) is much younger than her male counterparts, both whom she kissed in the movie. At the time of shooting, Emmy was 16, Patrick Wilson (Rauol) was 30, and Gerard Butler (The Phantom) was 34.
The chandelier weighed 2.2 tons, cost $1.3 million, and was provided by Swarovski. It had a stunt double for riskier scenes. There was also a third chandelier made, that was equipped with electricity and lighting for the opening scene.
In the transition where Christine is contemplating and moving towards engaging the coach to take her to her father's grave, the melody playing is "Beneath a Moonless Sky," a duet between Christine and the Phantom from Andrew Lloyd Webber's sequel to Phantom entitled "Love Never Dies."
The sweeping camera angles during "All I Ask of You" made it necessary to shoot multiple takes of the kiss between Emmy Rossum and Patrick Wilson. Emmy Rossum had to ice her lips between takes to prevent them from swelling.
All of the principal actors sang in the film except for Minnie Driver. Most of the actors have a background in musicals or opera, but Driver (a skilled singer) had no experience in opera and was dubbed by Margaret Preece, a singing teacher from Solihull, UK. However, Driver did contribute the film's end title song, "Learn To Be Lonely," written specifically for the film by Andrew Lloyd Webber.
The instruction to "Keep your hand at the level of your eyes" is another reference from the book, in which the Phantom was adept at disposing of victims with the "Punjab lasso." Keeping one's hand at the level of one's eyes kept the Punjab lasso away from the victim's neck and was the only defense.
In Christine's debut performance as the star of the Opera House, she wears a costume that is an exact replica of the outfit Empress Elizabeth (aka "Sisi") of Austria wears in her most famous portrait. This includes the white diaphanous dress with full, billowing skirt, as well as the diamond star-bursts in her hair and earrings. This is not surprising when one considers the fact that Andrew Lloyd Webber is one of the most important collectors of artwork from this period, and would be familiar with the portrait in question.
When the Phantom is taking Christine to his lair, he places her on a black horse for a while. This is not part of the show, but is a nod to the original book, where the Phantom uses a horse named Cesar to transport Christine part of the way.
Prior to the making of the film, Gerard Butler never had a proper singing lesson, so when he was recording "Music of the Night" he said "it was quite difficult, considering how long you have to hold the ending note"
Gerard Butler was not the only actor to go through hours of prosthetics: for the look of an older Raoul, Patrick Wilson also went through hours of makeup to look much older than he was for the scenes with Raoul as an old man.
Michael Jackson wanted to play The Phantom himself in the film version. Jackson had a strong interest in musical theater and was a fan of Andrew Lloyd Webber's stage adaptation when he saw it open in New York in 1988, in which Jackson saw it several times since and talked to Lloyd Webber backstage. However, Lloyd Webber has said that although Jackson wanted to play the film version of The Phantom, Lloyd Webber felt that it was too early for "Phantom" to become a film because the stage musical had just opened at that time.
The film project was confirmed in 1989. Terry Semel and Bob Daly, then studio bosses at Warner Bros., were "Phantom" fans and wanted it filmed. The project was ready to begin filming in 1990 and be released in November 1991; it was set to star Michael Crawford and Sarah Brightman (the original stars of the stage version). Just before filming began, Andrew Lloyd Webber divorced Brightman and the project was put on hold.
In the "Masquerade" scene, there is a pan up the stairs. When it reaches the top of the stairs, opera patrons dressed in cat masks strike the pose that the cats on the show "Cats" pose in any promotional material. "Cats" is also an Andrew Lloyd Webber show.
At the beginning of the movie, the cast is rehearsing for an opera called "Hannibal" and they are singing "Hannibal Comes!" This is not an actual opera; Andrew Lloyd Webber wrote this for the beginning and wanted to help the actors warm up to the part with a laugh, hence the silly make up and costumes.
The casting process began in New York; only singer-actresses under age 25 were even screen-tested. To complicate matters, Andrew Lloyd Webber was happy to go along with Joel Schumacher's insistence on youth but had a demand of his own: "He said, 'Make them unknowns, by all means, Joel, but they must be able to sing," Schumacher recalls.
Since the crew didn't want to have to actually build an Opera House, the exterior is actually a doll house type model that was filmed in a studio. In "All I Ask of You (Reprise)", when the Phantom is on the balcony, he is not really there. He was edited in. The footprints in the snow were made on the model where they filmed the camera zooming out and then put in the Phantom.
The chandelier used was 17 feet high and 13.2 feet wide, and was hung with more than 20,000 full cut Swarovski crystal pendants. It was produced by Tisserant in Paris, and it took four months to construct and five days to assemble at the studio.
Because the chandelier scene is at the end of the film, as opposed to ending the first act as it does in the play, one of the lines in the song "Masquerade" had to be altered so that instead of referring to a "new chandelier" they talk of "friends that are here".
In the beginning of the movie, the retiring owner, Lefevre, says that the only way to please Carlotta is, "Grovel, grovel". This is part of a song from Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat, another one of Andrew Lloyd Webber's shows.
While others have been mentioned through the years, Joel Schumacher was Andrew Lloyd Webber's choice for director since the movie project was conceived in the early '90s. He chose Schumacher after being impressed by the use of music in The Lost Boys (1987).
In the original stage production the chandelier is dropped at the end of the first act (just after the reprise of "All I Ask of You"), but it was decided to have it at the end of the film. This change has been incorporated into the new Vegas production of the show.
The Broadway production of Andrew Lloyd Webber's 'The Phantom of the Opera' opened at the Majestic Theater on January 26, 1988 and has run for over 12,000 performances, making this production the longest running show on Broadway (January 2010). Phantom was nominated for ten 1988 Tony Awards, won seven Tony Awards (Best Musical, Best Actor (Michael Crawford), Best Actress (Judy Kaye), Best Scenic Design, Best Costume Design, Best Lighting Design and Best Direction of a Musical (Harold Prince).
Andrew Lloyd Webber's 1986 musical "Phantom of the Opera" was inspired by Ken Hill's 1976 musical version of the same name. Hill's version is credited as the first Phantom musical and was a success. Sarah Brightman, who later created the role of Christine in Webber's version, was famously asked to play the role of Christine in Hill's 1984 revival but turned down the offer. Webber, who was then married to Brightman, had actually seen Hill's show and asked Hill to collaborate Phantom on a larger scale for the Victoria Palace Theatre in the West End; eventually Webber pursued the musical without Hill. Hill and Webber had previously worked together on a revival of "Joseph and the Amazing Technicolour Dreamcoat".
In the scene where Raoul falls onto water and is nearly drowned, the footage is played on reverse to make it seem that Patrick Wilson is underwater longer than he really is. If looked at carefully, air bubbles can be seen going back into his nose
The movie was dubbed into Spanish by the actors and singers from the Madrid stage version. The main roles are played by Juan Carlos Barona (The Phantom), Julia Möller (Christine), Paco Arrojo (Raoul), Yolanda Pérez Segoviano (Mme. Giry), Belén Marcos (Carlotta), Tony Cruz (Firmin), David Venancio Muro (André), Enrique Ferrer (Piangi) and Ana Esther Alborg (Meg Giry). The Spanish lyrics, however, are different from the Madrid version because of the need of lyrics that can be lip-synced with the screen actors.
At the "Don Juan" opera play, background people is dancing "sevillanas", a typical Spanish dance from Seville, the city where the events of "Don Juan Tenorio" (play written in 1844 by José Zorrilla) take place.
Lorimar planned a non-musical version in 1986. Dennis Potter wrote the screenplay, Wolfgang Petersen was going to direct and the setting was to be Nazi Germany in the 40's. Robert De Niro and Jack Nicholson were front runners for the title role but money troubles at Lorimar led to the cancellation of the project.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
At the end of the film, Christine's gravestone gives her date of birth as 1854. The main story takes place in 1870, which means Christine is 16 during the events at the Opera House. Emmy Rossum, the actress who played her, was 16 when filming started.
The main story takes place in 1870, and the auction takes place in 1919. In the final scene, the year of Christine's death is marked as 1917 on her tombstone. In the stage play, the main story takes place in 1881, the auction in 1910, and Christine is said to have died in 1907.