Ability over Appearance: Philip Pullman had something of a reaction like this when Nicole Kidman was cast as Mrs. Coulter in The Golden Compass. The character has black hair in the books (Kidman being blonde) and Pullman said "I was wrong, she has to be blonde", Kidman having been his personal choice for the role.
Awesome, Dear Boy: Eva Green signed on to play Serafina Pekkala because she has a great interest in witches and the occult, and loved the idea of playing one. She has played severalmoresince.
Box Office Bomb: Budget, $180 million. Box office, $70 million (domestically), $372,234,864 (internationally). Due to selling off all international profits to get the film made, New Line could only rely on the domestic proceeds for revenue, firmly making this one of the biggest bombs of 2007.
Casting Gag: Lord Asriel is played by Daniel Craig, known as that generation's James Bond. In the London stage adaptation, the role had been played by another former Bond - Timothy Dalton.
Creator Backlash: Chris Weitz disowned the final film due to all the Executive Meddling it went through. He especially regretted having to replace Nonso Anonzie's voice as Iorek with Ian McKellen.
Creator Killer: This was part of a bad spell that led to New Line Cinema losing their independence, becoming a subsidary of Warner Bros. Pictures; this also led to their subsidaries getting crushed in the remolding of the firm. This was also the fate of Shiny Entertainment, the studio that made the game tie-in, and Sega had to abandon them to Double Helix.
Deleted Role: Serafina's daemon Kaisa doesn't appear in the finished film, but photos exist of him with Eva Green.
Deleted Scene: According to Chris Weitz, a whole hour of footage was deleted from the film:
The entire ending sequence, where Lyra and Roger travel to find Lord Azriel and he kills Roger to open up a portal to a new world. This was cut primarily to test audiences mistakenly thinking that Lyra had died and was going to Heaven rather than just crossing into a new world. Two clips of the ending are in the trailer, and some of the sequence is included in the video game.
Eva Green claims she had more scenes filmed. She listed her favourite as one where Serafina flies alongside the Gyptian ship, sees Farder Corem and hides so he won't see her.
The scenes of Lyra staying with Mrs Coulter were longer but got cut down into the montage shown in the film.
Tom Courtenay claimed his role was "cut to the bone" in editing.
Even Shiny Entertainment, who made the licensed game, wasn't safe. While their reputation had already gone down after the release of Enter the Matrix, the game's poor reception was more or less the final nail in the coffin. The company merged with The Collective, thus creating Double Helix Games, not too long afterward.
This was also part of a particularly bad time for publisher Sega, who was coming off the disasterous execution of Sonic the Hedgehog (2006), which ruined that franchise's 15th anniversary celebration singlehandedly.
Executive Meddling - The director attempted a more faithful adaptation. The money men differed. See the main page for the result.
Replacing the original voice of Iorek, a Shakespearean actor virtually unknown in Hollywood, with the instantly recognizable voice of Sir Ian McKellen.
Fake Nationality: French (with an English accent) Eva Green as a Scandinavian witch.
The first teaser showed a completely different opening - where a cat would cross from our world and meet Lyra and Pan. Pan would change shape and scare the cat away - to which he would respond "you'd think she'd never seen anyone's daemon before."
The original filmed ending can be seen in the trailer; there's a clip of Lyra screaming "I'm not yours. I'll never be yours!" as the ice shelf breaks.
The Other Marty: Different voice actors were originally chosen for Iorek and Hester, Iorek's even making it into the teaser trailer. They were recast with Ian McKellen and Kathy Bates. Earlier in production Adam Godley was going to voice Pan, but got replaced with Freddie Highmore.
Promoted Fanboy: Both Daniel Craig and Dakota Blue Richards were big fans of the books.
Real-Life Relative: Dakota Blue Richards's mother makes a cameo in the scene where Lyra and Mrs Coulter are having dinner - where Lyra spits the wine out.
Stillborn Franchise: They were willing to make a trilogy. However, criticism from the Catholic church and middling box office return killed those plans and led to the film's ending Cliffhanger becoming perpetual.
Troubled Production: Mostly in the post production stages. The studio insisted on several recuts of the film, and had several scenes re-shot and reordered around. Weitz's original cut had a whole hour of extra footage. The ending was abruptly cut and given a more uplifting climax, intending to save it as the beginning of the second movie - which of course never happened.