The control panel for the robotic arms that Mike uses to grab the Hubble is marked "Manos." Manos, along with being Spanish for "hands", is also a reference to the movie Manos: The Hands of Fate (1966) which is generally agreed to be the worst movie ever shown on Mystery Science Theater 3000.
When Universal originally released the movie, they thought a limited release in a select group of "college towns" (where they believed Mystery Science Theater 3000 (1988) was most appreciated) over a longer period of time would lead to a box office bonanza, and keep it from having to compete with the early summer blockbusters like Twister (1996) and Mission: Impossible (1996). Very few of the show's fans were aware the movie had been released, and it languished in relative obscurity throughout the spring and early summer. It was the first, and last, time Universal attempted such a plan.
By many accounts, making the movie was not a happy experience for the filmmakers, due to frequent studio interference. At a cast reunion appearance in New York City, Trace Beaulieu was asked what the worst movie featured on Mystery Science Theater 3000 (1988) was. He replied, "Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Movie".
The makers of Mystery Science Theater 3000 (1988) were so annoyed by their experiences having to work with a major studio on this film that they later parodied the experience on the TV series. In Mystery Science Theater 3000: The Incredible Melting Man (1996), the host segments are about Crow's screenplay being purchased by a studio then ruined by the executives (Dr. Forrester and Mother Forrester) as they vainly try to shoot it and screen it for audiences. Series writer and star Mary Jo Pehl would later call the episode an "exercise in healing."
Tom Servo says, "Oh, they're flying into a Roger Dean album cover." Roger Dean designed many of Yes's album covers, starting with 1972's "Fragile," many of which look like the scene in This Island Earth (1955).
At one point, Crow quips, "Oh, PLEASE, let us get the Sci-Fi Channel, oh please, oh please, oh please!" At the time, the production company Best Brains was negotiating a deal to air on the Sci-Fi Channel.
The original DVD release had no special features, and was withdrawn from circulation in 2000. On April 19, 2003, the 7th anniversary of the movie's premiere, an unknown Internet fan released a Special Edition DVD. This two disc set has the widescreen version of the film, the theatrical trailer, TV spots, a review from E!, a slideshow presentation from the 1996 MST3K convention, and the cut host segment and alternate ending.
Most of Gypsy's puppeteering was done by Patrick Brantseg, who would later take over both the puppeteering and voice in the TV series. Jim Mallon's voice was dubbed in later so Mallon could focus on directing the scene.
Frank Conniff said in an interview that he caught a lot of flack for choosing This Island Earth (1955) to be riffed. Conniff explained that he never liked the movie because Cal was presented as a hero. He felt that Exeter was the real hero and Cal was too self-absorbed to be the hero.