The film cost only $60,000 to make, most of which was raised in the form of individual $100 contributions from director Darren Aronofsky's friends and family. When it was later bought by Artisan Entertainment, each contributor got back a $150 return on their investment.
Backstories for the characters Max and Sol were conceived by Sean Gullette and Darren Aronofsky, but they were never written for the film. They would have been about Max proving to be a math prodigy at very young age and soon attending Columbia University, where he met Sol, a Russian expatriate, who was captured by American Forces and was given the chance to assist in the building of nuclear weapons because of his great math prowess. He refused and was relocated to Siberia, where he was soon let out and acquired a job teaching math at Columbia University. If given a closer look at Sol's wrists, prison tattoos can be seen.
The 216-digit number which Max hand-writes on paper (different from the 218-digit number displayed on-screen by Euclid) is: 884509627386359275033751967 943067599621731590401694134 434007629683591574337516791 197615733475195375920401694 343151239621353184932676605 800621596380716399501371459 954387507655892533875618750 354029981152863950711207613. The piece of paper he writes it on has "Only God is Perfect" at the bottom.
Max suggests that the Kabbalists have already tried all possible 216-digit numbers. That is 10 to the power of 215 multiplied by 9. [9x(10^215)] The result is a number length of 216 decimal digits. The number of atoms in the visible universe is only 80 digits, so it is obviously impossible for them to have tried them all.
Michael Drosnin has a theory that if the Biblical Text is put through a computer and letters are selected at certain regular intervals, a decoded message emerges that predicts the future. Skeptics observe that he keeps trying it until it appears to work. This is a modern sophistication of a hobby that Isaac Newton sometimes indulged in, finding mathematically hidden messages in the Bible.
The film "Pi" describes the Talmudic tradition of finding meaning in the numerical values of Biblical words and phrases. A common misconception is that in recording the dimensions of one piece of temple furniture, Pi is evaluated to 3. This mistake is based on a misunderstanding of the measurements of the ceremonial bowl. (1st Book of Kings Chapter 7 verse 23)
The trivia item below may give away important plot points.
The movie ends with Jenna asking for the result of the division of 748 by 238. This simplifies to the fraction 22/7, the result is 3.1428 which is a good approximation of pi often taught in primary schools. (3.1415...) by 3 digits.