Towards the beginning of the film, the TV in the bar shows Senator Edward Ted Kennedy (1932-2009) supporting the candidacy of Barack Obama in the 2008 presidential election. Later, the inspection stickers on Russell's truck are dated 9/13 & 12/13, which indicates the prison time he served for his driving accident was five years.
In 2011 Scott Cooper promised Christian Bale that the director wouldn't make this thriller without him. Unfortunately Bale's schedule didn't permit him to participate in the project, but the actor couldn't get the story out of his mind. Later on Bale's schedule cleared up and the shooting of the film commenced in April of 2012.
Scott Cooper rewrote the script and the character of Russell Baze specifically for Christian Bale even though the two had never met and Cooper didn't know whether the actor would take on the role or not.
Eddie Vedder wrote a number of songs for the film, but director Scott Cooper thought they were too perfect and powerful, which could pull the audience out of the story, so they mutually decided to leave them out of the film and unreleased.
The title of the film went through a couple of iterations before settling on "Out of the Furnace". The original script was called "The Low Dweller" but when Scott Cooper was rewriting it, he considered changing the name to "Under a Black Sun". While shooting the working title of the film was "Dust to Dust". It was Terrence Malick and Sam Shepard who finally convinced Cooper that "Out of the Furnace" was an apt title for the film.
The term "Jackson Whites" to describe the "inbred" mountain folk of New Jersey's Ramapo Mountains appears to have disappeared and been replaced in the DVD version by reference only to the "Ramapos" people. That change may have been due to a civil suit filed against the filmmakers in 2012 by members of Jersey's Ramapo native-American tribe, two of whose common tribal surnames were actually the same as two of the movie's violent characters.
Scott Cooper decided to use Braddock, Pennsylvania, as the main location for his film after reading an article about it. The former steel town had been in decline for years and its mayor had been doing his best to revitalize the area.
The screenplay is born out of a spec script by Brad Ingelsby called "The Low Dweller". It came to Scott Cooper's attention with Ridley Scott and Leonardo DiCaprio attached as producers. Cooper rewrote the script, investing it with his own experiences, notably growing up in Appalachia and losing a sibling at an early age.
On July 9, 1755, British General Edward Braddock and his English and Colonial troops were marching towards Fort Duquesne (present day Pittsburgh). They were surprised by a French and Indian force that decimated this army. Braddock was shot, and his wounded body was taken from the battlefield by George Washington. Braddock died soon after and gave his name to the town in which this movie was filmed, as this was the battlefield.
The only major release to open on the weekend of 6 December 2013. Despite having no other new releases to contend with, the film only managed to earn $5.3 million. In contrast, Frozen (2013) earned over $30 million and The Hunger Games: Catching Fire (2013) grossed $27 million.
Features several actors/actresses who have played characters from both Marvel and DC comics including Christian Bale (Batman/Bruce Wayne), Zoe Saldana (Gamora), Willem Dafoe (Green Goblin/Norman Osborn), and Boyd Holbrook (Donald Pierce).
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
In preview screenings the ending was different as during the final scene more police cars arrive and when Bale shot Harrelson, Bale was shot also by police officers while Whitaker was trying to stop them from shooting him without success.
After Russell Baze finally has Harlen Degroat on the ground and asks him "do you know who I am?", Harlen pulls his right hand up first then his left hand into what looks like a fighting position. Tattooed on the bottom of his right hand is the word "fuck" and on the bottom of his left hand is tattooed "you".