Haley Joel Osment was contracted without knowing which studio would make the movie and who were the other main leads. This was against standard Hollywood practice and surprised Eugene Osment (Haley's father and manager) at first, but he agreed to "use" his son to get the remainder of the cast and the studio.
EASTER EGG: On the special features side of the DVD, go to the deleted scenes section. While at the top of the list, press the "up" button on your remote control and a star will appear and be highlighted. Press the "Okay" button and a clip of outtakes will come on showing all of the filmmakers' attempts at trying to put the rooster on the pig.
In the fight scene with Robert Duvall against the four teens, one of the actors, Travis Willingham, was hit three times in the face by Duvall. Due to a miscommunication, Duvall reportedly told him afterward, he thought that Willingham was a stunt man and that he, Duvall, was supposed to hit him. The cut used was the final one when Travis' nose finally started to bleed.
Although Jasmine the Lion is frequently said to be old and weary, Taureg, who played Jasmine, was a young lioness, less than two years old (lions in captivity can live up to 20-22 years). This is stated in the DVD special features.
Tim McCanlies wrote the lion as a female, because he thought it would be easier to keep under control than a male lion. It wasn't until production began that he found out that female lions were actually much more ferocious than male lions.
When Walter was wrestling with Jasmine, a female stunt double named Marie played Walter with her hair cut really short when shooting the scenes with the real lion. When Haley Joel Osment plays Walter, you can see behind the head that it is the puppet lion.
The lion in the movie is a mixture of reality and puppetry. Like in one scene where Hub, Garth, & Walter were looking at it, they weren't really looking at the lion. From inside the crate, they were looking at the puppet lion moving the head like it was actually moving.