Although filming began in Prescott, Arizona, in fall 1969, American International Pictures pulled out of the production, halting filming. Twentieth Century Fox came in and filming eventually resumed, but when that studio refused to distribute the film, Warner Bros. took over.
The film was released in the spring of 1971 after more than one year of shooting. It opened in Cincinnati, Ohio, only, on April 19, 1971. The film lacked distribution, so Laughlin took it to theaters himself. He had had terrific problems with the studio; at one time the studio had taken the masters with plans to reedit the film without him. Laughlin actually sued Warner Bros. for millions and ended up settling years later for a six-figure payoff.
The theme song by Coven, "One Tin Soldier," was a hit on the Billboard charts.
The film died at the box office in its initial run but took in more than $40 million in its 1973 rerelease, which was supervised by Laughlin.
The hat Tom Laughlin wore in the film was actually a Halloween present from his daughter T.C.