Writer-director Peter Hyams handled the cinematography for most of this movie. Stephen Goldblatt was misleadingly hired by Hyams, who only wanted him to stand aside and do nothing, and to use him as a scapegoat for the production company in case anything went wrong while using the IntroVision process. According to Goldblatt, he was furious at being lied to and wouldn't have taken the job if he'd known Hyams' intentions at the outset. He stayed on in order to learn how to use IntroVision, and because as a young cinematographer with a sole prior feature credit, quitting a movie could have ruined his career. It is the only one of his movies whose wrap party he skipped.
The script was originally intended to be set in a western period, but writer-director Peter Hyams decided to move it to outer space due to the influence of Alien (1979). The original title was Io, but Hyams was persuaded to change the title by an executive from the Ladd Company following a demonstration on random people, which showed that many would read the title as "number 10" instead.
One of the few movies to be released theatrically with the "Megasound" sound system format. Megasound was a movie theater sound system created by Warner Brothers in the early 1980s. It was used to enhance the premiere engagements of a handful of Warner Brothers movies. Theaters equipped for Megasound had additional speakers mounted on the left, right, and rear walls of the auditorium. Selected soundtrack events with lots of low-frequency content (thuds, crashes, explosions, et cetera) were directed to these speakers at very high volume, creating a visceral effect intended to thrill the audience.
The mining company is referred by the name "Con-Amalgamate". This is the same name given to the company that manufactured the defective life support system mentioned in Capricorn One (1977) (also written and directed by Peter Hyams).
The first movie to use the IntroVision front projection process, which allowed an actor, actress, or other live-action element to be sandwiched by a projected background and foreground element, all in the same shot.
This movie draws on the Gary Cooper classic High Noon (1952). Killers are on their way to kill the marshal, who finds himself abandoned by his deputies, and with none of the residents willing to stand with him. Numerous villains await the arrival of the killers. As the arrival time approaches, Sean Connery enters a public facility (in High Noon, a saloon, and then a church) and speaks to the "townspeople" repeating the classic Cooper line, "I could use a little help" and receiving none. As in High Noon, the response is that it is his job to protect them, and not the reverse. His only ally is a woman with a sullied reputation - in this case, a doctor who describes herself as being "one step short of a malpractice suit." Despite this, she has become a solid citizen. This parallels the character of the old flame in High Noon (1952), who had become a hotel owner. The marshal must decide between joining his wife, or doing the right thing - staying behind and facing almost certain death. Also, as with High Noon, the name of the site is never specifically mentioned, although it is displayed here and there on signs throughout the movie. There are parallels in the set design as well, as with the swinging saloon doors outside the marshal's office, although they are made from metal and not wood.
The total population of the mining facility is two thousand, one hundred forty-four people. As seen in the briefing, there are eleven security officers, which breaks down to one officer for every one hundred ninety-five people. Statistically, the average ratio in American cities is 1:290. This suggests that the residents of the Io operation are a rowdy bunch.