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What Was the Budget for the Film: Napoleon Dynamite?

We’ve all heard about low-budget films but there are some movies that started with a low budget and went on to be a box office hit. That’s exactly what happened with the Napoleon Dynamite.

The Film; Napoleon Dynamite completed their production with an estimated budget of $400,000 only. On their opening week, they were able to make $116,000 in US and Canada alone. They finally earned about $46 million in gross worldwide sales.

What Was Napoleon Dynamite About?

Much like most comedy films in the early 2000s, Napoleon Dynamite is about a teenager’s struggle with the dynamics of school cliques, popularity and an odd family.

The film was written by Jon and Jerusha Hess, and directed by Jared Hess. It is basically the full length version of a short film they made called Peluca. It is also said that the film is loosely based on the life of Jared Hess. (Source: IMDB)

How Much Did Jon Heder Earn for His Role?

While it was no secret that the film worked with a tight budget. The production cut out on a lot of corners. This included the compensation the cast got for making the said film. Jon Heder was cast for the lead role of this film. He only earned $1,000 for acting as Napoleon Dynamite.

Since it was unclear if that was what he was paid in total. Heder confirmed in an interview, that it was an initial payment. When the film began to gain more traction and profit, Heder was able to renegotiate for a percentage of the film’s profit.

Heder never opted to discuss the details of this arrangements or his final earnings, but what we do know is that he was earning more in his next films even if he played smaller roles. (Source: Looper)

Why Did Heder Agree to the Small Salary?

The $1,000 Heder was paid was to solely act on the film. To understand why he agreed to such a small compensation, you would need to know how the market works for indie films.

Unlike larger production companies, indie film makers have a very tight budget they have to work with. Everything gets accounted for; food, rentals, cameras, certification, actors, extras, and more. Indie filmmakers make sure to get an actor that already has their name in Hollywood, but will work for peanuts. This helps sell their film. If you don’t have a big name actor to work with, after shooting is done and everything is wrapped up, you enter film festivals. When you make a good reception at the film festival, distribution companies get interested and that’s when you start making real money.

So even if Jon Heder agreed to getting paid $1,000 for acting in Napoleon dynamite, he definitely earned more than the measly $1,000 that is being discussed. He knew the film’s potential and at the end of the day, it made more that what they expected. (Source: Looper)

Where is Jon Heder Now?

While Napoleon Dynamite jump started Jon Heder’s career in comedy, this was not his only thing he was interested in. He also does voice acting and producing. He is still quite active with about three films in post-production, and one currently filming. (Source: IMDB)

Though he has been the victim of typecasting, this did not stop him from achieving a very fruitful career. (Source: Looper)

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