DIRECTOR CAMEO: The two mosquitoes trapped in the light of the bugzapper ("Frank, don't go towards the light!" "I can't help it - it's so beautiful!") are the voices of the co-directors, John Lasseter and Andrew Stanton.
In the bloopers shown at the end of the film, Princess Atta is shown cracking up during her scene with Hopper, ruining take after take until Hopper goes to his trailer in frustration. This is a spoof of Julia Louis-Dreyfus being known to do the same.
During the summer of 1994, Pixar's story department began turning their thoughts to their next film, while Toy Story (1995) was in post-production. The storyline of A Bug's Life (1998) originated in a lunchtime conversation between John Lasseter, Andrew Stanton, Pete Docter, and Joe Ranft, the studio's head story team. Toy Story 2 (1999), Monsters, Inc. (2001), Finding Nemo (2003), and WALL·E (2008) were also conceived at this lunch. Lasseter and his story team had already been drawn to the idea of insects as characters. Insects, like toys, were within the reach of computer animation at the time due to their relatively simple surfaces. Stanton and Ranft wondered whether they could find a starting point in Aesop's fable The Ant and the Grasshopper. Walt Disney had produced his own version with a cheerier ending decades earlier in the 1934 short film The Grasshopper and the Ants (1934). In addition, Walt Disney Animation Studios had considered producing a film in the late 1980s entitled "Army Ants", that centered around a pacifist ant living in a militaristic colony, but it never fully materialized.
The casting of Hopper proved problematic. John Lasseter's top choice was Robert De Niro, who repeatedly turned the part down, as did a succession of other actors. Kevin Spacey met John Lasseter at the 68th Academy Awards ceremony and Lasseter asked Spacey if he would be interested in doing the voice of Hopper. Spacey was delighted and signed on immediately.
The tunnel in a tunnel joke was made in reference to Steve Jobs' (CEO of Pixar and Apple) plan for Apple's "store in a store". Also, the hand gestures made by Hopper were modeled after gestures made by Jobs.
Editor Lee Unkrich revealed they considered calling the film "Bug Story", but coming on the heels of Toy Story (1995), they were worried that people would expect Pixar to use the "____ Story" naming convention for all their films.
P.T. Flea is Pixar Legend John Ratzenberger's favorite Pixar role, because "in real life, I always get a kick out of those kinds of characters, people who just go into a rage for [no] explicable reason. He was always on edge. His blood pressure was always way over the top, and everything that he did was done in a panicked state. So it was a lot of fun to play him."
Dim wasn't based on a real variety of rhinoceros beetle, but in 2016 a variety of rhinoceros beetle with a horn like his was discovered. Such discoveries of "fictional" creatures later revealed to be real have subsequently been dubbed "the Dim Effect".
For the 1.33:1 video transfer, rather than pan-and-scan the original 2.35:1 theatrical image, Pixar actually re-used the original computer images, re-framed some scenes, and even to the point where they'd place characters to a different spot in the scene to fit into the 1.33:1 frame.
When Flik is in the city, a cereal box can be seen over his right shoulder with the first half of the code written on it appearing as "A113", a reference to the animation room at California Arts University where many Pixar artists attended. This reference is common in animated films, and has been made in most of Pixar's films up to date.
The Queen's pet aphid "Aphie" in real life would be treated more like livestock instead of a pet as ants typically herd aphids for the sweet nectar that they produce, and in return the ants protect aphids from predators.
Andrew Stanton has said that he was the creator of Dot and that he was inspired to want a little girl in the film because he just had a newborn daughter at the time, which he said was something that John Lasseter as a father of five sons "couldn't claim to have".
Molt was created for the film to provide some comic relief out of the more uncomfortable moments with Hopper, but it was decided to make him Hopper's brother when it was realized that Hopper would never allow somebody as witless and annoying as Molt to stay with the gang otherwise.
The movie closely resembles the 1954 classic Seven Samurai (1954) by Akira Kurosawa. A story about a village under attack by bandits demanding food compensation. This goes on until the village decides to travel outside their area and hires samurai to defend the village. The classic was remade into a western in 1960 as The Magnificent Seven (1960) where they hire gunslingers to defend their home. The term is changed in this film to 'Warriors' of those they hire to help defend their home, which total seven as well.
In the original fable "The Ant and the Grasshopper", a grasshopper squanders the spring and summer months on singing while the ants put food away for the winter; when winter comes, the hungry grasshopper begs the ants for food, but the ants turn him away. Screenwriters Andrew Stanton and Joe Ranft hit on the notion that the grasshopper could just take the food. After Stanton had completed a draft of the script, he came to doubt one of the story's main pillars - that the circus bugs that had come to the colony to cheat the ants would instead stay and fight. He felt the circus bugs were unlikable characters as liars and that it was unrealistic for them to undergo a complete personality change. Also no particularly good reason existed for circus bugs to stay with the ant colony during the second act. Although the film was already far along, Stanton concluded that the story needed a different approach. Stanton took one of the early circus bug characters, Red the red ant, and changed him into the character that would become Flik. The circus bugs, no longer out to cheat the colony, would be embroiled in a comic misunderstanding about why Flik was recruiting them. John Lasseter agreed with this new approach and comedy writers Don McEnery and Bob Shaw spent a few months at Pixar working with Stanton on further polishing.
Pixar's First Film to have their Logo with Luxo Jr. bouncing and squashing the Letter I, which appears after the Disney Logo at the start of the film, after their first film Toy Story (1995) didn't have that.
Even though Thumper rarely speaks, in the scene where the grasshoppers are approaching Ant Island he shrieks "get those bugs" as Molt is desperately trying to hold his leash, when he actually speaks in the outtakes he's voiced by David L. Lander who has also voiced Smarty the Weasel
There has always been some confusion as to which one is Tuck and Roll, but the set of bean bag dolls of the characters that were made by Disney reveals this. Tuck is the one with two eyebrows and Roll is the one with the unibrow. It's also worth noting that Roll has a deeper voice while Tuck has a slightly higher tone.
Hopper apparently had a soft spot for his mother, as he honors her deathbed wish not to kill Molt, despite being quite tempted to on various occasions, although many have debated if this is actual love or him simply trying to prove he can keep a promise.
When Dim hides the Queen under his wings, Manny mistakenly calls him a dung beetle when he is really a rhinoceros beetle,though rhinoceros beetles are a subfamily of the scarab beetle (dung beetle) family.
During the warriors' introduction, Slim whispers to Heimlich, "Wow, they sure are starved for entertainment" - a direct quote from the similarly themed The Three Amigos, a comedy film where the plot involves three out-of-work actors that are hired to defend a town from "real" bandits.
Despite being grasshoppers, the villains display more traits of locusts. Examples include having a way with food, flying around together in a swarm, being brown, never happen to jump around, and live in the desert. However, it's since been discovered that some species of grasshoppers can morph into locusts under the right conditions, so the movie got it half-right.
Despite Gypsy being able to fly, in real life only male gypsy moths can fly while females, Despite having a full set of wings cannot fly.The real gypsy moths are also not as bright colored as Gypsy's wings (real female gypsy moths have white wings with black spots.)
John Lasseter assigned Andrew Stanton the job of co-director on A Bug's Life (1998); the two men worked well together and had similar sensibilities. Lasseter had found that the workday of a sole-director on a computer-animated feature was dangerous while working on Toy Story (1995). In addition, Lasseter felt it would relieve stress and the role would groom Stanton for a lead directing position of his own. Lasseter's decision was handsomely paid off, as not only Stanton went on to become one of the most visionary directors in modern-day cinema, but also production on nearly all future computer animated films can now be well-handed by two directors.
Tuck and Roll have only eight legs rather than the 14 legs that woodlice have in nature, and the insect characters (aside from the Grasshoppers and Slim) only have 4 legs as opposed to 6, and Manny has 2 legs instead of 4 legs like other Mantises.
The Bird is (probably) not based on a real bird, though the overall coloration and shape are vaguely reminiscent of some kind of tanager. This Saffron Finch (actually a tanager despite the name) is pretty darn similar, although fans have accepted it as an American Goldfinch.
Pixar's first film to say "The End" before the Credits start to roll. This would later be the case for Future Pixar Films that had the Co-Director of A Bug's Life (1998), Andrew Stanton as the Main Director.
A Bug's Life (1998) has the shortest development cycle of any Pixar film to date, having been in production for three years following the release of Toy Story (1995), whilst the other Pixar Films to date had been in production for at least more than that time.
Denis Leary's first animated film, and only one outside 20th Century Fox's Ice Age Franchise ((2002-2016) which also had a character named Manny) which unlike this film is rated PG, as well as the only one that doesn't have him using his regular voice.
The only Pixar film directed by John Lasseter to not be nominated for a Best Film Golden Globe, as Toy Story (1995) and Toy Story 2 (1999) were nominated for Best Motion Picture - Comedy or Musical, and Cars (2006) and Cars 2 (2011) were nominated for Best Animated Feature, with Toy Story 2 and Cars winning.
Alex Rocco (Thorny) and David Hyde Pierce (Slim) both had roles as Minor Recurring Characters in the Fox Animated Sitcom The Simpsons (1989). Rocco voiced Roger Meyers Jr., and Pierce voiced Cecil Tewiligger.
Even though the grasshoppers are portrayed as short-winged green grasshoppers, only Hopper and Molt are from a different genus of grasshopper known as Euthystira brachyptera, the Small Gold Grasshopper.
Not only is the famous class number at Cal Arts, "A113" on a box in the movie, but also next to A113, it said "1195", this is a reference to the first Toy Story. Toy Story (1995) was the first Pixar movie made, and it was released in 1995. 1195 also references to the month and year Toy Story (1995) came out, November 1995.
During the bird fight scenes, Heimlich is seen as being stuck in a crevasse, and Slim tells him, "Suck it in, man!" In the following scene, we see them in the medical room and Heimlich is there as well, with no evidence as to how he escaped the crevasse.
Roddy McDowall (Mr Soil) and Madeline Kahn (Gypsy) died in the 20th century a year apart from each other. The century afterwards Jonathan Harris (Manny) and Joe Ranft (Heimlich) both pass away in the 21st century three years apart from each other.
The first theatrically released animated film for Dave Foley. Later he'd continue voicing Flik the Ant in Toy Story 2 (1999) and Cars (2006) and go onto voice the Baldwin Brothers in South Park: Bigger Longer & Uncut (1999) and Terri Perry in Monsters University (2013).
When Hopper monologues to Princess Atta about "those circle of life kind of things-the sun grows the food, the ants pick the food the grasshoppers eat the food," Molt interrupts him quipping "And the birds eat the grasshoppers," foreshadowing Hopper's death at the end when the bird feeds Hopper to her baby chicks.
Hopper is considered among Pixar's most evil and ruthless villains along with Syndrome and Lotso. He victimizes the ants with no reason or Freudian excuse, and has no obvious sympathetic or comedic qualities. Although, he does show a little bit of a comedic side to him when he interacts with Axel and Loco before he buries them under a huge pile of grains to demonstrate what the ants are capable of.
Hopper's fate is similar to Scar's demise in The Lion King (1994) - both villains get eaten alive by animals (Scar gets mauled by his Hyena minions who turned against him at the end, while Hopper gets fed to the bird's chicks).
The (failed) attempt at intimidating the flies that attempted to harass Francis, which was the reason why Flik even mistakenly believed they were warrior bugs in the first place, was a spoof on Robin Hood. Also, after they demolished the bar in their attempt to flee, Francis pulls Slim out in a parody of King Arthur pulling out Excalibur. The music that plays in that scene sounds similar to the Master Sword theme from The Legend of Zelda.
Shares a similar plot with the CG Animated film, "Antz (1998)". In both films, a common worker Ant with a reputation for thinking too much embarks on a journey that affects his entire colony and begins a romance with the Princess.