Max Julien was writing Cleopatra Jones for his girlfriend when he was given the 30 page treatment for this film. He's said he wouldn't have agreed to make the movie based off that, but the producer's offered him carte blanche on rewriting it. He also made major contributions in the designing of the much heralded costumes.

The Mack entered the non-competitive category of The Cannes Film Festival on May 11, 1983, 10 years after its release. Entertainment Weekly Magazine cited this as one of the top 20 cult film of all times.

The infamous Player's Ball scene was largely Richard Pryor’s idea. Other parts of the story Pryor took directly from people who he knew living this lifestyle. These included putting a man in the trunk of a car with rats and forcing a drug pusher to stab himself at gun point.

According to director Michael Campus, screenwriter Robert J. Poole started developing the treatment and script on toilet paper while he was in prison. The final draft of the script was written by Max Julien, Richard Pryor and Michael Campus. Many of the scenes were improvised right before they were filmed.

The Ward brothers, who play themselves, were real life pimps and drug pushers in Oakland. They offered protection to the filmmakers to be included in the film. The Black Panthers heard about the film and shook down the director for $5,000 to film in Oakland.


When the Ward brother's heard, they felt betrayed by the production. During one day of shooting, glass bottles rained down from buildings as retaliation from the brothers.

Producer Harvey Bernhard was against casting Richard Pryor in the film because of Pryor's notorious behavior. The box-office success of The Mack helped Pryor to get work in film again.

Goldie's brother is based off Huey P. Newton and Bobby Seale who were friends of Max Julien. Many of his speeches are word for word Huey P. Newton speeches. Juanita Moore plays Goldie’s mother in the film. She also played his mother in Up Tight!