Robin Hardy, a writer and the director of the original film, and Christopher Lee, who played Summerisle in the original film, were both critical of the remake. Hardy had his name removed from the film's credits as he did not wish to be associated with it.
The movie was originally rated R for extreme violence, disturbing images, language, and thematic elements, but director Neil LaBute wanted a broader audience, so they cut most of the scenes out, some of which have been included in the unrated version of the DVD, to deem it PG-13. However, there are about four minutes of additional cut footage that are not shown in the unrated DVD.
Edward Woodward, star of the original The Wicker Man (1973), has said that while he was offered a part in the remake and declined, he nevertheless was "surprisingly impressed by the quality of the script". Nonetheless, the name of the young girl was changed from Rowan Morrison (in the original) to Rowan Woodward for this film.
The writing on the chalk board in the classroom is a portion of the poem "The Marriage of Heaven and Hell" by William Blake and reads, "Once meek, and in a perilous path/ The just man kept his course along/ The vale of death./ Roses are planted where thorns grow./ And on the barren heath/ Sing the honey bees."
The sisters' names are plant related, or have a nature connection, such as Willow, Beech, Honey, Rose and Thorn. Malus is the genus name for the apple and crabapple, while Rowan is the name of a shrub found in Asia and Europe.
While Officer Malus is talking with Sister Rose outside the schoolhouse, there's a maypole in the background next to a swing set. This is in reference to the maypole question and scene in the original The Wicker Man (1973).
Nicolas Cage objected to the criticism that the film was unintentionally funny, saying that he and Neil LaBute knowingly made the picture an absurdist black comedy and that it should have been seen and judged as such.
The downstairs interior of Sister Summersisle's home is actually a women's club in Vancouver. The fancy wallpaper seen along the staircase was on a wall added by the art department to cover an open doorway leading to a large modern kitchen. The upstairs portion of the house was a set.
In Robin Hardy and Anthony Shaffer's original The Wicker Man (1973), the island is called Summerisle. The producers of the remake decided to change it to "Summersisle" because they thought it would be 'easier for Americans to pronounce'.