Boise is full of trivia nights and you always get invited along because you are the fountain of useless movie knowledge. If that sounds like you, then you should have no problem answering this question - Which movie set in Idaho put up the highest-grossing global box office total? 

This should be easy, right? We’ve already put together a list of movies shot in Idaho. Some of those were set in Idaho, too. We followed that up with a list of 35 films that may not have necessarily been shot in Idaho, but their plot was set in Idaho. 

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Even without browsing those lists, you may have shouted out Napoleon Dynamite. The quirky, overly-quotable film was a hit with teen audiences in 2004. It was both set in and filmed in Preston, Idaho and the surrounding areas. By today’s standards, arguably the most well-known film set in the Gem State. During its original release window in 2004, it raked in $46.1 million at the global box office. That’s pretty impressive for a film that had an estimated budget of just $400,000 and had a cast of virtually unknown actors. 

Twentieth Century Fox
Twentieth Century Fox

Was that enough to make the highest-grossing movie set in Idaho at the global box office? Nope! Work + Money scoured data from Box Office Mojo to determine the “Highest-Grossing Movie That Takes Place in Each State” and revealed that for Idaho, it was a film that scored $94.2 million worldwide during its original release. It also featured a cast of BIG names like Meryl Street, Kevin Bacon and John C. Reily.

Scene From The Film A River Wild Starring Meryly Streep And Kevin Bacon
Getty Images

At a loss? The movie was called The River Wild and it was released in 1994. The synopsis on IMDB explains: 

“A Boston couple, Gail and Tom are having marital problems. Gail, a rafting expert, decides to take their child Roarke on a holiday rafting down the Salmon River in Idaho, along with their pet dog. At the last minute, Tom joins them. As they are setting off they meet a couple of other rafters, Wade and Terry, who appear to be friendly.”

It’s described as an “adventure/crime/thriller” about a vacation gone terribly wrong. While the film may be set in Idaho, none of the footage of the “Salmon River” was captured here. IMDB lists the Kootenai River in Libby, Montana, the Upper Rogue River in Grants Pass, Oregon, and the Middle Fork of the Flathead River in Kalispell, Montana as filming locations. Glacier National Park and Boston, Massachusetts round out the filming locations. 

If you read through the comment section for this trailer on YouTube, you’ll see that people LOVED this movie even though they discovered it decades after it came out. Many streaming outlets have the ability for you to watch it for free with a premium subscription or rent it for a one-off.

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