Theatrical release: February 21, 1996.
The film was shot on various locations in Dallas, Texas, including at St. Marks High School, where Owen Wilson was expelled in the tenth grade.
Wes Anderson met his writing partner and friend, Owen Wilson, when they were both students at the University of Texas. Anderson even wrote a paper for Wilson when they were roommates, as part of a deal over who would get the better room. The paper, on Edgar Allen Poe's "The Cask of Amontillado," earned Wilson an A+.
While in college, Anderson asked Wilson to star in A NIGHT IN TUNISIA, a play which was a take on Sam Shepard's TRUE WEST. It was the first time Anderson and Wilson worked together.
BOTTLE ROCKET was inspired by Anderson and Wilson's experiences living in an apartment together in Austin, where they had windows that wouldn't shut, and a landlord that didn't care. To prove to the landlord the dangerousness of the situation, the two broke into their own apartment and reported it to the police. The landlord, unmoved, still did not fix the windows, saying the break-in looked like an "inside job."
BOTTLE ROCKET provided Luke Wilson's first onscreen kiss, with Lumi Cavazos, who is best known for her role in LIKE WATER FOR CHOCOLATE.
The film also features Luke and Owen Wilson's brother, Andrew, who appears as Futureman.
The prison at the end of the movie is called Wasco State Penitentiary, after the production designer of the film, David Wasco.
James Caan's real-life teacher and master of karate, Takayuki Kubota, played Rowboat (Mr. Henry's karate instructor) in the film. The scene where Kubota is seen wearing only underwear was shot under Caan's protest, who said that it was inappropriate for a "holy man" to be shown in such a way.
BOTTLE ROCKET is named after the cheap, poorly made, and illegal fireworks that explode, but don't travel very far. As Anderson has said, "They are the kind of thing that could catch a garage on fire but a neighbor with a garden hose could put it out."
The film was based on Anderson's 13 minute short that was successfully screened at the 1993 Sundance Film Festival. Writer L.M. Kit Karson brought the material to the attention of producer James L. Brooks, who made the project possible.
The film was shown out of competition at the 1996 Rotterdam Film Festival.
Wes Anderson was voted the 1996 Best New Filmmaker at the MTV Movie Awards for BOTTLE ROCKET.
The film is number seven on Martin Scorsese's list of the Top Ten films of the 1990s.