SALT LAKE CITY (AP) – The cult comedy Napoleon Dynamite will turn 15 this month, marking a turning point for a film that has become one of the most recent successes of the geek pop era. -culture.
The film created the "Vote for Pedro" t-shirt and created Napoleon's disgusted version of "that's it!" in a slogan of 2004.
Composed of just $ 400,000 by a newly graduated group of film students at Brigham Young University, it is expected to bring in more than $ 46 million after its release in June 2004. Word of mouth before take-off Twitter and Facebook, he was part of a handful of independent comedies that took off in the early 2000s.
"Napoleon Dynamite" tells the story of his curly and socially clumsy head character who eventually triumphs over high school jocks and cheerleaders because of his quirks rather than despite them.
Its success has added to the growing profile of the world's nerds, at the beginning of a new wave of geek glory. "The Big Bang Theory", will debut a few years later and will become the highest-rated sitcom on television, while comic books will have box office dominance.
The two spouses of Jared and Jerusha Hess enjoyed unforgettable moments in high school, ranging from a musical sign language club to puff sleeve dresses for school dances. The rural life of the small town of Preston, Idaho, was also evoked, along the lines of the often quoted phrase taken from Napoleon's call at mealtimes. to the family's lama: "Tina, big fat, come and have dinner."
The combination hit the comic gold.
"I think the film's legacy is original," said Glenn Williamson, independent film producer and lecturer at the School of Theater, Film and Television at the University of California at Los Angeles. "I like to think that something like this can find an audience today because I think people are responding to this authentic freshness."
Filmed in just over three weeks, the film caused a sensation at the Sundance Film Festival even though it had been submitted before director Jared Hess thought he was ready. But producer Jeremy Coon said that he knew that they had something special from the first assembly.
"We were all hungry students coming out of school.There was a lot to do," said Coon, who borrowed money to make the film to his brother.
Fox Searchlight earned nearly $ 5 million, a princely sum at the time.
It started relatively small in theaters, but with smart marketing and word of mouth, people kept coming back. Nearly three months after his release, he was still making as much money per theater, said Bruce Nash, founder and publisher of The Numbers, a film industry monitoring site.
"You do not really see that today," he says. The popularity continued even on DVD.
Most of the films with a similar longevity were supposed to be serious contenders for prizes or had been created by established screenwriters and directors, he said. They also tend to be dramas.
Among the few other comedies are "My Big Fat Greek Wedding", "Little Miss Sunshine" and "Juno", both also released in the early 2000s. Although they were low budget by Hollywood standards, none was on a "Napoleon Dynamite" -the shoe level.
"It still stands out, even among other films with similar legs at about the same time," Nash said.
It has a DIY aesthetic that reflects the way the film was made: Napoleon's iconic inflated snow boots had two decades and were borrowed from an uncle. Almost all the costumes came from the savings stores, and they assembled extras for big scenes with the promise of a boiling hot dog. His effervescent dance that wins the day at the apogee of the film has for the most part not been choreographed.
Jon Heder, who played Napoléon, then played with Will Ferrell in the comedy "Blades of Glory" in 2007 and recently devoted himself to television and cinema. The Hesse directed "Nacho Libre" with Jack Black shortly after Napoleon Dynamite, and later Jerusha Hess directed the 2013 romantic comedy "Austenland".
Tina Majorino made a comeback with her role as Deb and the first child star has since appeared in shows ranging from "Veronica Mars" to "Gray's Anatomy".
The film also spawned a cartoon and, more recently, a suite of comics. A "Vote for Pedro" t-shirt was presented to San Antonio Spurs head coach, Gregg Popovich, in 2016, and drama actors for teenagers "Riverdale" donned inspired Halloween costumes. of the film last year.
The original fans of the photo are now old enough to have kids, and that's the kind of movie that most parents would not blush to show their kids, Coon said.
"We always made the film that made us laugh, it was not like we were going to make this film for the masses," he said. "Let's hope new fans are born and can find the movie, it can grow from there."