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This Is Where Napoleon Dynamite Was Actually Filmed

The comedy that launched a million "Vote for Pedro" t-shirts, "Napoleon Dynamite" was certainly a strange movie to become a massive cult hit phenomenon in 2004. After all, Jared Hess' low-budget feature film directorial debut starred an unknown actor, Jon Heder, as the title character, an awkward, listless teen in a small town seemingly stuck in the '80s. Much of the film's humor came from the lameness of the character's surroundings juxtaposed with absurd, highly memorable dialogue ("Do the chickens come with large talons?").

"Dynamite" was in fact so polarizing, with its arch jokes and vintage whitebread aesthetic, that movie recommendation algorithm builders circa 2008 couldn't determine whether or not a person would like it, even with hard data about personal preferences (via The New York Times). But the comedy's mix of mockery and genuine adoration of the characters won many people over, and according to Box Office Mojo, the film eventually grossed over $46 million worldwide — many, many times over the very small budget of $400,000.

Why exactly is the film's locale so memorable, though, and where was it filmed? This is everything we know about where "Napoleon Dynamite" was made.

Napoleon Dynamite was shot on location in Idaho

After shooting "Peluca," a 2002 short film also starring Heder, Hess decided to adapt it into a full length feature, which became "Napoleon Dynamite" (via Open Culture). The film was ultimately shot in Hess' hometown of Preston, Idaho (population 5,354, says its website), close to the border of Utah. While for other filmmakers would have chosen other locations, Preston had inspired so much of the film's Midwestern style. There were also finances to consider; Hess could only make "Dynamite" for $400,000, so he simply made the film with his buddies.

"It was so much fun being in this rural farm town making a movie," Hess told Rolling Stone for their 2014 oral history of "Dynamite." "We shot it in 23 days, so we were moving very, very fast; I just didn't have a lot of film to be able to do a lot of takes. It was a bunch of friends getting together to make a movie. It was like, 'Are people going to get this? Is it working?'"

As it turns out, it did, and Hess was soon able to ride the film's success into making other absurdist comedies, including "Nacho Libre," "Gentleman Broncos," and "Masterminds." 

If you want to remember what made such "Dynamite" such a hit, meanwhile, you can currently rent the film on Itunes for $3.99.