Theatrical release: November 18, 1992.
Filmed on location in New York and Fishkill, New York; New Jersey; Boston, Massachusetts; Mecca, Saudi Arabia; Soweto, South Africa; and Egypt.
MALCOLM X began shooting September 16, 1991, and was completed January 26, 1992.
The screenplay was begun by Arnold Perl, who died in 1971, more than twenty years before Spike Lee filmed it. Many others worked on it over the years, including James Baldwin, Calder Willingham, David Mamet, David Bradley, and Charles Fuller.
The film's estimated budget was $34 million. Budget battles plagued the production from the beginning. Initially, director Spike Lee had requested $33 million for the film, a reasonable sum considering the size and scope of the project but far greater than his previous budgets (the highest being $14 million for JUNGLE FEVER). Additionally, his five previous films combined grossed less than $100 million domestically. As a result of this (and the studio's reluctance to fund black-themed material), Warner Bros. only offered $20 million for a two-hour and 15-minute film, plus an additional $8 million from Largo Entertainment for the foreign rights. When the film went $5 million over budget, Lee kicked in most of his salary, but failed to keep the financiers from shutting down post-production. Lee went public with his battles and raised funds from celebrity friends, such as Oprah Winfrey, Michael Jordan, and Bill Cosby to regain control of his embattled project. Warner eventually kicked in more funds after a positive screening of a rough cut.
Norman Jewison was originally intended to direct. Lee created an uproar by insisting that only an African-American director could handle this material (especially given the dearth of films devoted to black culture), and eventually Jewison dropped the project.
Still yet another controversy erupted over Lee's unauthorized use of amateur cameraman George Holliday's video of the Rodney King beating. Holliday charged Lee with copyright infringement for incorporating the footage into the film's opening sequence without permission.