The real animals were paired two-by-two, but many of them were actually same-sex couples. This was for safety: a bull elephant was considered a safety risk so two females were used. With giraffes, males can be friendly. Pairs of male giraffes were used.
Evan's wife's name is Joan. This is an allusion to a popular joke from Bill & Ted's Excellent Adventure (1989), combining the names of French freedom fighter Joan of Arc and Noah's Ark, which are obviously two very different stories.
In the scene, when Evan is saying to God "then you have to understand this building an ark thing really isn't part of my plans here.", God laughs. This is a reference to the Yiddish proverb, "Mann traoch, Gott läuch," meaning "Man plans, God laughs."
The movie was filmed in Virginia in the hottest part of summer - so hot, in fact, that more than one extra fainted from sun exposure. Dry Virginia orange-colored dirt is visible in exterior Ark scenes, yet the Baxter's house right next door has a lush and perfect inch-high green lawn. Simple: it's Astroturf. Broom-wielding crew occasionally swept dusty orange footprints off of the Baxters' plastic grass.
For a cloudburst scene, it took hours to raise a pipework "rain rig" by crane over the Ark and then to position the hundreds of extras and set the equipment. After a practice take, the filmmakers saw an attractive cloud which they hoped to use as background while Evan speaks -except that the rain rig would be in the shot. During the hour it took to move away the cranes, of course the cloud moved away. The area was reset for the cloudburst scene (another hour) and by then the day's sunlight was spent. The scene was put off for another day.
When God appears to Evan in the back of his SUV, Evan screams, and God replies "Let it out, son. It's the beginning of wisdom." This is a paraphrase of Proverbs 1:7: "The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge: but fools despise wisdom and instruction."
The environmentally-minded production purchased bicycles for film crew members from a business near where location filming was underway; thereafter, almost no crew drove cars while running errands across the expansive set areas.
During the Ark-yard scene, in which snarling lions with a "privacy please" sign scare off news reporters, CGI lions were used for safety. Acting as reference "stand-ins" for the absent lions were two large stuffed toy lions.
During filming, a curious giraffe bit a portion of the Ark which was paneled with dark-painted Styrofoam. Without injury, the giraffe spat it out and went about its business, but a noticeable white bitemark remained. Later, the missing area was touched-up.
The massed animal scenes seemingly showing thousands of approaching animals used digitally effects to increase apparent numbers. However, contrary to rumor, the lesser numbers of helper animals present during Ark construction outdoor scenes were quite real.
The ark shown in Prestige Crest was built as a full size ark, with added sections being built for other shots requiring CGI. The frame of the ark was steel with wood effect paneling to make the construction easier and cheaper.
When Evan gets the first shipment of wood, the label reads "Alpha and Omega Hardware"... a sign that the wood is from God. Revelation 1:11 in the King James Bible says, "I am Alpha and Omega, the first and the last."
The American Humane Society oversaw the one hundred species of animals that were used in the film. In scenes including both predators and prey, the animals were digitally added, to ensure their safety.
Originally conceived as a direct sequel to Bruce Almighty (2003) with Jim Carrey reprising his role from the original. Robert Florsheim and Josh Stolberg's script "The Passion of the Ark" attracted high bids in Hollywood in 2004, and was eventually bought by Sony. Director Tom Shadyac, who was part of a failed Universal bid for the script, suggested to Sony that they partner to rework the project as a sequel to Bruce Almighty (2003), with Carrey indicating he would consider returning. Writer Steve Oedekerk rewrote the script, but Carrey eventually bailed on the project in 2005. Shadyac stayed on though when Steve Carell, whose star had risen after the success of The 40-Year-Old Virgin (2005), agreed to star in the film, reprising the role of Evan Baxter, this time as the lead character.
Jimmy Bennett, who plays Evan's youngest son, was filming a scene in which he and a baboon both roll logs along the ground, logs which will be used in building the ark. The baboon eventually tired of it after several takes. Suddenly, the baboon jumped up onto a pile of boards off camera and then leaped onto Bennett's back, knocking him down. The baboon then leaped back onto another pile of lumber. Filming stopped for the time being but Bennett was not hurt. Later, Bennett said he was scared when it happened, but was fine.
The film's town of Huntsville is a real-looking fake stage set built along the then-vacant roads of a real future housing development tract - which is now being built-over with real houses. The houses look much like the Hollywood structures of Prestige Crest they replaced.
When Evan asks God why him, why an ark Evan asks "Why an ark? I mean that's like flood territory. You wouldn't do that again. You wouldn't do that. Would you?" God responds "Let's just say, that whatever I do, I do because I love you." In fact, it states in the Bible, in Genesis 9:11, I establish my covenant with you: Never again will all be cut off by the waters of a flood; never again will there be a flood to destroy the Earth."
Much of the concept of this script and the amazing ArkAlmighty.com project it resulted in is based on the work of author and church planter, Steve Sjogren. At the time the screenwriters were fascinated with Sjogren's book, "Conspiracy of Kindness." At he end of the film Sjogren is mentioned as a creative consultant in the credits.
In the scene where Evan wakes up, the alarm clock reads 6:14 and the letters Gen can be seen in the clocks corner, this is in reference to Genesis 6:14 " So make yourself an ark of cypresswood; make rooms in it and coat it with pitch inside and out."
Evan's Ark never had a completed roof. Only the first few planks (closest to the bow) of roofing were present. Otherwise, only the framing trusses were erected. In studio post-production, the roof was completed digitally.