- Sean Durkin was looking for an unknown actress to play the role of Martha, which was the only role auditions were held for. Elizabeth Olsen auditioned twice for the role of Martha, and had to begin filming only two weeks after winning the part.
- Elizabeth Olsen and Sarah Paulson invented together some background for the sisters' relationship. So every scene when they talked about their past, although it's vague on the script and for the viewer, Olsen and Paulson knew exactly what Martha and Lucy are talking about.
- Shot over 20 days.
- There are several references to the work of singer-songwriter, Jackson C. Frank. John Hawkes plays "Marcy's song" in the film, while "Marlene" is played over the credits. It can be assumed that John Hawkes' character, Patrick, fabricated the names Marcy May and Marlene from these songs.
- [as Marcy May introduces a new 'recruit' to their home and shows her one of the babies]
Sarah: All the kids here are boys.
Martha: [referring to Patrick] He only has boys.
- Lucy: Why would you think it's okay to come in here like that?
Martha: I don't know. It's a big bed. You guys were on the other side.
Lucy: You can't come into our room when we're having sex. That's not normal. It's private.
Lucy: You don't need to apologize. Just - I need you to understand why it's not okay.
Lucy: Do you?
Martha: Because it's private and not normal.
Lucy: Oh, God.
- Martha: I am a teacher and a leader. You just never let me be that. But now, I am... I know who I am.
- Martha: Is it true married people don't fuck?
- Martha: [about their robbery victim] Zoe, I can't stop thinking about that man.
Zoe: Yeah. I know. We're never really dead or alive; we just exist. So he's still existing, but it's in a parallel time. Just don't think about it.
- Lucy: We're trying to have a family and I don't feel safe with you here.
Martha: You're gonna be a terrible mother.
- Martha: [to Lucy] Just because we're sisters doesn't mean we need to talk about everything that comes into your head!
- Martha: I am a teacher and a leader.
49th Annual New York Film Festival - 'Martha Marcy May Marlene' Premiere
Martha Marcy May Marlene premiered at the 2011 Sundance Film Festival in January, with Durkin winning the festival's U.S. Directing Award for Best Drama. It also screened in the Un Certain Regard section at the 2011 Cannes Film Festival and at the 36th Toronto International Film Festival on September 11, 2011. The film received a limited release in the United States on October 21, 2011. In its opening weekend in limited release, Martha Marcy May Marlene grossed $137,651 in the United States. 20th Century Fox Home Entertainment released Martha Marcy May Marlene on DVD and Blu-ray on February 21, 2012.