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According to a October 7, 1952 Hollywood Reporter news item, Keenan Wynn was originally cast in a leading role. Arena was M-G-M's first feature-length stereoscopic, or "3-D," film. A May 14, 1953 Hollywood Reporter news item noted that the film was being referred to as the screen's first "round" Western. Spurred by competition both from television and the other studios, M-G-M developed its own stereoscopic process, Metrovision Tri-Dee; however, the studio released only one other 3-D film, Kiss Me Kate (see below).
According to a March 27, 1953 news item in Hollywood Reporter, Arena and all future films released in Ansco color would share color credit with Technicolor. Portions of the film were shot on location at the annual "La Fiesta de Los Vaqueros" rodeo in Tucson, AZ. According to a Hollywood Reporter news item, the film had a 15-city premiere on June 19, 1953. For more information on 3-D films, see the entry below for Bwana Devil.