The dance scene on the beach was saved for the very end of filming, so that the two young leads would be comfortable around each other, and was done on a closed set (just the two leads, co-Writer and Director Wes Anderson, and the cameraman).
In the film, Laura Bishop shouts at various family members through a bullhorn. The idea came from co-Writer Roman Coppola's childhood, as his mother Eleanor Coppola used a bullhorn in a similar fashion.
According to Wes Anderson, Suzy's discovery of the "Coping with a Troubled Child" pamphlet was based on a similar experience from his own childhood: "It wasn't anything terrible. It's just something that at the time, when I found it, I was like, 'What is this?!' I immediately knew who that troubled child was, even though hypothetically, it could have been someone else."
During filming, co-Writer and Director Wes Anderson rented an old mansion in Newport, Rhode Island for him, Editor Andrew Weisblum, and Director of Photography Robert D. Yeoman, in which they had a room set up for editing the film. It had been arranged for the cast to stay in a nearby hotel called "The Vanderbilt Grace", but eventually some of the cast members also decided to stay at the mansion, including Edward Norton and Jason Schwartzman. Murray later joked that the theory was to have everyone close by so that they could all work "ungodly art-movie hours".
When Suzy is reading "Disappearance of the Sixth Grade" at the Mile 3.25 Tidal Inlet campground and continues onto "Part Two" after Sam says to read on, it is just about the exact midway point of the film: the spoken words occur at 46:59, with 46:56 left in the movie. This moment also marks the transition of the film's plot, of course, so Suzy's "reading" also informs the audience of the shift in the movie's tone and direction.
Commenting on the film's connection to the first time he fell in love, Wes Anderson has said, "Well, what I wanted to do was re-create the feeling of that memory. The movie is kind of like a fantasy that I think I would have had at that age. When you're eleven or twelve years old, you can get so swept up in a book, that you start to believe that the fantasy is reality. I think when you have a giant crush when you're in fifth grade, it becomes your whole world. It's like being underwater, everything is different."
According to Jared Gilman, the scene that required the most takes was the one where he held up the beetle earrings to Suzy. Each time he did it, either the earrings weren't entirely in the frame, or he wasn't holding them correctly.
The film opened in only four theaters, two in New York City, and two in Los Angeles, but earned 167,250 dollars per screen, the all-time record for highest per-theater box-office average of a non-animated film.
Before filming, neither Kara Hayward nor Jared Gilman had ever seen a typewriter in person. Hayward later said, "Fran (Frances McDormand) had a lot of fun with that. She couldn't believe it. She showed me that the keys are in the same place as now (on computers)."
There are numerous references to corn. Added to the film being bathed in yellows and oranges, remarks are made about maize, Scout Master Ward is seen reading "Indian Corn Magazine" twice, Sam constantly smokes from a corn cob pipe, the three Bishop boys are eating only corn on the cob in one dinner scene, the coffee pot in his Sam's foster parents kitchen has the famous Corning Corn Flower pattern on the exterior, and the end of the film mentions the best corn crop the island has had in fifty years.
When Sam is surrounded by the Scouts in Lightning Field, he says, "On this spot, I will fight no more, forever!", which is from the Surrender Speech by Chief Joseph of the Nez Perce tribe. In 1877, Chief Joseph attempted to lead his people on an eleven hundred-mile journey to Canada to escape the U.S. Army. They made it within forty miles before they were surrounded, and Chief Joseph made his speech.
While Suzy's books in the movie are fake, "Noye's Fludde", is a real 1957 opera by Benjamin Britten. The text is based on an edition by Alfred W. Pollard of an early fifteenth century mystery play from the Chester Mystery Cycle. The opera is written to be performed by a cast primarily of amateurs, and Britten requested it be performed in a church or a large hall, but not in a theatre. Hence, why it is being done by children in a church.
The science fiction book that Suzy carries, "The Girl From Jupiter", bears the name "Isaac Clarke" as the author. This name references Isaac Asimov and Arthur C. Clarke, two of the best-known writers of science fiction novels.
Some of the ranks shown on the patches of the Khaki Scouts include Scout Master (Randy Ward), Field Mate (Shakusky), Reptile Patrol (Roosevelt), Woodmaster (Skotak), Judo Expert (Redford), H2O Purifier (Deluca), Bear Spotter (Panagle), Flint Chipper (Panagle), and Petty Bugler (Lazy-Eye). Some have multiple ranks (in addition to Panagle, Gadge also holds multiple ranks: Signal Scout, Arrowhead, and Knife Hunter) whereas some have only one (Cousin Ben is only a Legionnaire).
The Bishop residence contains several paintings of various locations around the movie, including the Bishop residence, Camp Ivanhoe, the New Penzance Post Office, and Fort Lebanon, as well as numerous paintings of ships. The paintings of the locations around the movie are later seen in the credits.
All the Khaki Scouts have a pendant tied to their neckerchiefs, at the base of their necks. Some of these include raccoon hair (Sam), a lobster figurine (Lazy-Eye), a miniature canoe (Gadge), an ax (Deluca), an ice cream bar on a Popsicle stick (Nickleby), and a campfire (Scout Master Ward).
Commander Pierce is introduced during the last act, but his character is shown and mentioned throughout the film. His picture is on stamps on the letters that Sam and Suzy send, his picture is on Scout Master Ward's desk, and his picture is also in an editorial of the magazine Scout Master Ward reads called "Indian Corn".
During the closing credits, the voice of a young person introduces various instruments as they join in playing a song, a reference to the records played in the Hayward home. This method of spoken introduction has also been used outside of education recordings, such as in the obscure 1967 song "Intro and Outro" by The Bonzo Dog Doo-Dah Band where atypical and strange instruments are introduced as played by unusual and unlikely musicians (such as John Wayne and Adolf Hitler), and in Mike Oldfield's seminal 1973 work "Tubular Bells" where Part One is concluded by Vivian Stanshall as "Master of Ceremonies" crediting one by one the instruments used earlier in the piece. Also, tubular bells are listed as part of the deconstruction of the Alexandre Desplat piece.
The article in the Indian Corn Magazine about Commander Pierce (Harvey Keitel), shown towards the beginning of the film, has the quote "Are we men, or are we mice?" next to his photo. This is a reference to Bad Lieutenant (1992), also starring Keitel, in which he asked his sons similarly, "What are you, men or mice?"
All the Khaki Scouts have their last names etched right below their rank on the left side of their chest. Cousin Ben's last name is never mentioned by anyone in the movie, but the name "Mazursky" can be seen upon close inspection. This is possibly a reference to Paul Mazursky, another director of whom Wes Anderson is a fan.
The brief shot of the inside of Scout Master Ward's "Indian Corn Magazine" reveals that the magazine is based in Clinton, New Jersey 01012. However, the ZIP code, "01012" is the real-life ZIP code for Chesterfield, Massachusetts, a location mentioned in the movie as where Sam's foster family lives. Jared Gilman (Sam) is from New Jersey.
During one scene they listen to a recording of Camille Saint-Saëns' "Carnival of the Animals". "The Swan", probably its most famous movement, was not played. However, the scene ends with the image of a swan, perhaps as a reference to it.
Several scenes were filled at The Yawgoog Scout Reservation including the sailboat (Camp Three Point dam), Fort Lebanon (H. Anthony Cushman Stockade), Wedding Chapel (Adams Gate), supply and resource center (Order of the Arrow Information Center), trampoline kid (Camp Medicine Bow waterfront), various troops camping on field and marching (Challenge center field/high ropes course).
The trivia items below may give away important plot points.
When the movie first shows the scene of Scout Master Ward (Edward Norton) recording his log on his tape recorder, there is a framed picture of Commander Pierce (Harvey Keitel) next to his recorder. At the end of the movie, the picture is replaced with Becky (Marianna Bassham), the switchboard operator.
The movie opens with a painting of Summer's End, and ends with a painting of Moonrise Kingdom. The camera then fades to a shot of the actual campsite Sam is painting from memory, after he and Suzy renamed it.
The title of the movie comes from the name Sam and Suzy give Mile 3.25 Tidal Inlet when they decide they don't like the name; however, it is only seen at the end, written on the beach in Sam's painting of Moonrise Kingdom/Mile 3.25 Tidal Inlet.
The underlying tune of Alexandre Desplat's main theme for the movie, "The Heroic Weather-Conditions of the Universe", strongly resembles "The Sound of Silence", referencing another film about an elopement, The Graduate (1967), in which the Simon & Garfunkel song was heavily featured.
Many of these scenes were shot at Yawgoog Scout Reservation in Rockville, Rhode Island. Scenes include Fort Lebanon and the marriage and chase scenes. The one hundred-year-old camp hasn't appeared in any movie but this one.
Suzy's house is decorated with paintings of locations around the island, at the end of the film Sam is making an addition by painting Moonrise Kingdom. This painting is the last record of this location, because the Mile 3.25 tidal inlet/Moonrise Kingdom is destroyed by the hurricane.
There is a parallel between this movie's and The Shawshank Redemption (1994)'s escape scene: when the warden discovers Andy Dufresne had escaped through a hole in his cell's wall behind a poster and when Scout Master Ward discovers the hole in the tent covered by a map.
When Captain Sharp demands to know where Sam and Suzy went in the church near the end of the movie, the scouts of Troop 55 are in disguise when one points Captain Sharp up a ladder to the roof. The one that points Captain Sharp towards Sam and Suzy has a cleft chin, and only Nickleby has a cleft chin.