This film had been pitched to DreamWorks nearly twenty times before, following the successes of Old School (2003) and Elf (2003). DreamWorks had little faith in the film, doubting Will Ferrell and Adam McKay were able to pull off an entire film based on news anchors. Despite the doubts, it grossed eighty-four million dollars domestically, and Director Adam McKay had so much extra footage, he was able to make a second film out of it.
Adam McKay has said that in the first draft of the script, the story was about a planeload of news anchors who crash in the mountains and discover that the plane which they collided was carrying monkeys and martial arts equipment, leading to a battle between cannibalistic newsmen and star-throwing monkeys.
Champ's (David Koechner's) line "I will take your mother, Dorothy Mantooth, out for a nice seafood dinner and never call her again" is a paraphrase of a line from the comic book series "Dan Dare, Pilot of the Future", where Dare's nemesis, the Mekon, makes an identical threat against Dorothy Dare.
First part of Adam McKay's and Will Ferrell's "Mediocre American Man Trilogy". The second part was Talladega Nights: The Ballad of Ricky Bobby (2006). The third part was Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues (2013). On all parts, McKay works as the director, Ferrell is the main actor, and they both work as writers on the projects.
A good portion of scenes from the trailers were omitted from the final cut. These scenes include Burgundy taking a bullet for Veronica, and a later shot of him and her emerging from a television van to a cheering crowd, with Burgundy visibly showing a bandaged wound. The line where Ron asks Garth about his divorce while at a party, is also missing. Other shots cut include Ron walking into a filing cabinet and falling over, alternate dialogue when Ron asks Veronica what her dream is, Veronica and Ron tackling each other on the conference room table, collapsing (with Ron shouting "Let's make a baby!"), Ron admiring his own billboard, Ed Harken asking what a "lead" is, sitting by a poolside, standing by the side of the road with a long beard and guitar on his back trying to hitchhike, and others.
In the night club, Ron plays jazz flute in the style of Ian Anderson, lead singer and flautist of Jethro Tull. Ron blurts out "Hey Aqualung!" at the end of the song, a lyric from the Tull song "Aqualung", the title track of their 1971 album. In addition, the riff that he plays on the flute just before he does so is the main riff of the same song. The pose Ron strikes at the end of the song is also a clear imitation of the band's logo of a flautist turned sideways with one leg up. Ironically, "Aqualung" does not feature any flute.
Though the exact year in which the film is set is not stated, the fact that the characters know all lyrics to the song "Afternoon Delight", and Champ's offhand "Gene Tenace" reference on describing his excitement for sports probably places the time in mid-1977, Tenace's first season with the San Diego Padres.
The "battle scene" references the opening scene of West Side Story (1961). To add to this, Vince Vaughn wears a yellow jacket in the scene, which the characters of Tony and Riff wear in that film, during the pivotal dance scene (in which Tony meets Maria).
Number 4 is featured prominently in the movie: The station is Channel 4. The Channel 4 news team originally has four members. The opposite evening news team also has four members. Burgundy mentions a bank loan being denied to the Human Torch, who is a member of the ''Fantastic 4'' (Marvel's superhero team). When Ron is talking with Fantana from a public phone, on Fantana's desk you can see a 4 x 4 version of a Rubik's Cube. Early in the movie, after the first time we see Ron delivering the news, you can see the screen divided in four, showing "San Diegans" repeating Rons ''Stay classy'' phrase. Behind Ron's desk, there is a piece of advertisement saying Ron Burgundy is #1 in San Diego, it has four pictures of him on it. Baxter is also wearing the Channel 4 "4" on his dog collar.