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Idaho town hails `Napoleon'

July 11, 2006|From the Associated Press

PRESTON, Idaho — "Napoleon Dynamite," a low-budget, feel-good comedy starring Jon Heder, put this farm town near the Utah border on the map.

It has also generated $1 million for Preston, according to the Chamber of Commerce, one of the first to bill the town as a destination for "Napoleon Dynamite" aficionados.

The movie, which cost $400,000 to make in 2004, has grossed $40 million in the United States and spawned a cottage industry of "Napoleon Dynamite" memorabilia.

The second "Napoleon Dynamite" festival, which wrapped up this weekend, featured a Napoleon look-alike contest as well as a moon boot dance and Happy Hands club performance at Preston High School -- mimicking scenes from the movie. About 400 people attended, down from 6,000 last year, the Idaho Statesman newspaper reported.

Sales of "Napoleon Dynamite" merchandise in 2005 allowed the Chamber of Commerce to donate $13,000 to the Preston School District Education Foundation, plunk $25,000 into its annual Festival of Lights event Thanksgiving weekend and pay for this year's festival.

On State Street, the town's central artery, stores such as Big J Burgers and the Gingerbread Shoppe are pitching their roles, however small, in the success of the film.

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