In March 2012, Army Colonel Gregory D. Gadson, who plays Retired Army Lieutenant Colonel Mick Canales, became Garrison Commander of Fort Belvoir, just south of Washington, D.C. Colonel Gadson is the first bilateral amputee to serve as a Garrison Commander to any post in the United States Army.
The convenience store break-in at the beginning is a parody of a security video posted on YouTube, which went viral, of an actual liquor store break-in. Like the film, the robber climbed from the back of the store and fell down to the same spots from the ceiling twice. Both have the same camera angles and details, such as the foam and ceiling pieces falling down.
While filming the soccer game, an American and a Japanese warship each pulled into a dock near the field. The crews were promptly drafted as extras. They are standing on the prows of their respective ships, cheering and clapping.
The destroyers in the movie are Arleigh Burke class destroyers. The U.S.S. Hopper (DDG-70) is an Arleigh Burke class destroyer based in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii, and named after Rear Admiral "Amazing" Grace Hopper, who also gives her surname to some of the main characters.
The footage of Barack Obama saying "we are bringing all available resources to bear" was taken from a press conference on March 17, 2011, about operations in the aftermath of the Tohoku, Japan earthquake and tsunami.
The movie is based on the Milton Bradley game "Battleship", which has been manufactured since 1931. Some of the artillery in the film is shaped like the pegs used in the game. The original paper and pencil version of the game predates World War I.
According to journalist Pat Jordan, when Peter Berg was researching "Battleship," he spent a few days on a Navy destroyer, and before he left, he made a short film for the Captain and crew. The Captain had earlier joked that Berg was a 'Hollywood lame ass" to ever think he could understand how the destroyer worked in only three days. Berg, in turn, joked that he could because he'd seen a lot of films, like Pearl Harbor (2001). To settle their "argument", the two played the "Battleship" board game in front of the ship's crew, while Berg sent a helicopter to film the action from above.
Although the movie never comes out and says it, Alex Hopper was enlisted in the Navy before he became an officer. The movie gives clues to it, as one of Hopper's warfare device on his uniform is silver, and in several scenes, a tattoo of a "Mustang" can be seen on his right forearm. A Mustang is a term used for officers that are prior enlistees. He is also seen wearing the Good Conduct Medal on his Navy Whites. This medal is only awarded to enlisted sailors.
Peter Berg wanted to cast Rihanna, after seeing her Diane Sawyer interview following her battering, by then-boyfriend Chris Brown. Berg was convinced that if the singer could negotiate a tricky interview like that, she would make a good actress.
The first of three big-budget, high-profile 2012 blockbusters, all starring Taylor Kitsch in the lead. The other two were John Carter (2012) and Oliver Stone's Savages (2012). All three were box-office disappointments, or failures. The fates of all three effectively stalled Kitsch's hopes of being the next big star.
After the film's announcement (and even more so after its release) Hasbro toy sales declined, even reaching dangerously low numbers by the 2012 holiday season, a common urban legend is the film made the company so universally hated, that people gave up buying Hasbro brand products, as a punishment for allowing the film to be made, with the hope of bankrupting them, to prevent anymore movies based on their toys, in truth, while some decline in Hasbro toy sales was attributed to the film's negative reception, the real cause of the low sales was the ongoing economic slump and the U.S. economy suffering a relapse in 2012.
Hopper's calling upon the retired veterans to help crew the Missouri is inspired by actual historical events. When the Iowa class battleships were reactivated in the 1980's, the Navy had to recall veterans who had served on the ships during World War II and Korea, so they could teach the new crews how to operate the guns, fire control systems and other 1940's era technology.
During the first engagement with the alien ship, a crewman on the John Paul Jones responds to the incoming fire with the line "Vampire, vampire, vampire! Killing with CIWS!"; "Vampire" is NATO brevity code for an incoming anti-ship missile and CIWS is Close-In Weapon System (the 20mm rotary cannon turrets mounted on Navy warships used to defend against hostile aircraft and missile attack).
Ray Mabus: At the beginning of the RIMPAC exercise, Admiral Shane orders the Commanding Officer of the U S.S. Ronald Reagan to begin air operations. The Carrier C.O., who then gives the order to "commence air ops", is played by Secretary of the Navy Mabus.
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
The satellite the aliens hijacked, actually sends a signal for a few seconds, before being disabled. This may be a shoe-in for a potential sequel, which won't happen, as this film was a failure at the box-office.
At the end, Taylor Kitsch's character is challenged by a Navy SEAL to come down to Coronado and enter training to become a SEAL himself. Kitsch played Navy SEAL Lieutenant Michael Murphy in Peter Berg's next film Lone Survivor (2013).