Vox was originally written as a robot. Steven Spielberg was creating A.I. Artificial Intelligence (2001) at the same time, and had a similarly-designed robot in his own film for every version of Vox the filmmakers could conceive. Production designer Oliver Scholl came up with the idea of a hologram.
The opening scene was shot at Vassar College in the fall of 2000. The students in the scene are actual students and the professors are actual professors. Several additional scenes were shot but did not make it into the film. One deleted scene featured 10 Vassar students walking around the campus in front of the library with Guy Pearce (Alexander Hartdegen). The scene can be viewed in the DVD extras. The students were all allowed to miss classes during the shooting and were all paid for their efforts.
Originally scheduled for release in December 2001. It was bumped to March 2002 because of a scene involving a meteor shower crippling New York. The filmmakers were concerned the scene would stir memories of the September 11, 2001 terrorist attack on the World Trade Center.
The initial designs for the Morlocks by the Stan Winston Studio team were more faithful to the original book's description as brutish ape-like creatures with claws of moles. Director Simon Wells and the producers wanted changes made to accommodate the human performer and made them more humanoid, which angered the original artists. Ultimately the Stan Winston Studio team were not pleased with the look of the final Morlocks or the decision to film them in broad daylight as opposed to night, when they're supposed to be shown.
Vox mentions a "Time Machine" musical (With the year 2006) and starts singing a song with the lyrics "There's a place called tomorrow...". Such a musical and such a song do not exist, although its composer Andrew Lloyd Webber most certainly does.
When Hartdegen starts to travel to the future, he watches three mannequins in a shop window and as their clothes change across the time. In The Time Machine (1960), George watches the change of clothes of a mannequin during his time travel.
The creation of the Morlocks were divided between three companies. KNB Effects Group provided and created the makeup effects for Jeremy Irons's Über-Morlock. Stan Winston Studios created the slender Spy Morlocks and the brutish Hunter Morlocks. Industrial Light & Magic created digital versions of the Hunters when they run on all fours and perform heavy action.
When Alexander Hartdegen and Mara are in the memorial area covered with signs from New York, Alexander quotes a bible verse. He quotes Ecclesiastes 1:4 "One generation passeth away, and another generation cometh: but the earth abideth for ever."
Originally there was going to be another species of Morlock known as the Worker Morlocks, who were used as laborers and pack mules. Mark 'Crash' McCreery and other artists of Stan Winston Studio even did designs for them. Most likely due to budget restrictions, they were scrapped.
Despite the production controversies over what the Morlocks should look like in the remake, the final design pays obvious homage to the Morlock Sphinx that adorned the entrance to their underground kingdom in the original George Pal film.
Alan Young: "Filby" from The Time Machine (1960) appears as a florist. When Young picked out his costume, he found the same period shirt he wore in the earlier film, complete with his name written on the collar! (Source: DVD production notes)
In the trailer, when Alexander is shown standing up in his time machine, the scenery shows a beautiful landscape and tall towers. This was to indicate that the Eloi had won and evolved into a technological race. When the movie was shown in theaters, the scene was changed to a blood red sky and Morlock lairs appearing everywhere. Director Simon Wells did this because he felt that if Alexander traveled into a future where the Eloi won their war against the Morlocks, he would have no reason to go back to the past and Mara.
Some differences between the book and this movie include: Alexander is never given a name in the book, the narrator only calls him "the time traveler"; the time machine is built purely for scientific exploration in the book and not to change the past like in the movie; the time traveler escapes the Morlocks by way of the time machine and returns to his own time in the book before going on another time journey to an unknown period after which he does not return.
When Hartdegen talks with Vox about time travel, the latter mentions three real sci-fi writers: Isaac Asimov, Harlan Ellison and H.G. Wells. Asimov wrote "The End of Eternity" in 1955 about time travel and the risks of making changes to the past. Ellison wrote numerous science fiction scripts (including time travel) for TV series like The Outer Limits (1963) and The Twilight Zone (1959). Wells wrote "The Time Machine" in 1894, the book upon which this movie is based.