The Best Movies Shot In Minnesota

Fact Checked by Nate Hamilton

Minnesota may not be a major film production hub, but unlike some other states (looking at you Georgia), the movies shot here are most often set here as well.

As we continue to keep you updated on Minnesota sportsbooks and the sports betting status in the state, we pause to bring you the best films shot in Minnesota.

In celebration of Minnesota’s filmmaking history, MinnesotaBets.com ranked the best movies ever shot in the state.

To do so, we began with a list of all the movies shot in Minnesota according to Wikipedia. Then we created a grading system by combining IMDb rating, Rotten Tomatoes Audience score, Rotten Tomatoes Critic score, and Oscar recognition.

The Best Movies Shot In Minnesota Are...

According to our results, these are the best films shot in Minnesota.

RankMoviePoints
1Fargo (1996)98.3
2The Heartbreak Kid (1972)80.3
3Purple Rain (1984)73
4Slaughterhouse-Five (1972)72.67
5Dear White People (2014)71
6Grumpy Old Men (1993)69.3
7Catch Me If You Can (1989)68
8Youngblood (1986)58
9The Mighty Ducks (1992)50.3
10Little Big League (1994)49

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The Top 3 Movies Shot in Minnesota

The number one film shot in Minnesota is 1996’s “Fargo,” the Coen Brothers’ quintessential mid-western crime drama. While the movie is, of course, set in primarily in Fargo, North Dakota, much of the film was shot in Coen’s home state of Minnesota. 

Amongst the most celebrated filmmakers of the past thirty years, the Coen’s won their first Academy Award for writing the screenplay to “Fargo.” Frances McDormand also won her first Oscar for playing police officer Marge Gunder. “Fargo” remains one of the best films in the history of American independent cinema.

“The Heartbreak Kid” rates out at number two. This 1972 comedy is about a deplorable cad (Charles Gordin) who falls in love with another woman (Cybil Shepherd) while on his honeymoon. Grodin’s character then follows his new obsession back to Minnesota to win her over.

Written by celebrated playwright Neil Simon, “The Heartbreak Kid” is a dark satire about the insatiable desire of a certain kind of upwardly mobile man (you know the type). It is the second feature from director Elaine May, a pioneering female filmmaker, and the only woman to direct a feature for one of the five major Hollywood studios in the 1970s. She actually directs three in total — including 1971’s “A New Leaf” and 1976’s “Mikey and Nicky.”

Number three on the list is a film near and dear to Minnesotan’s hearts. The rock and roll drama “Purple Rain” stars Prince, the pride and joy of Minneapolis.

“Purple Rain” was released on July 27th, 1984 — about one month after the album of the same name. The movie was filmed entirely in Minneapolis, with a number of key scenes and musical performances set in the First Avenue nightclub, which remains open to this day. The production paid $100,000 to use the location, and it was closed for 25 days during filming.

Following his death in 2016, the iconic venue hosted a sold-out tribute to Prince featuring his backing band The Revolution.

World War 2, Winchester University, And Grumpy Old Men

Fourth on the list is the 1972 adaptation of post-modern novelist Kurt Vonnegut’s most celebrated literary work. “Slaughterhouse-Five” is about a World War 2 veteran, “unstuck in time,” who experiences (or perhaps re-experiences) fragments of his life in a non-linear fashion after being kidnapped and taken to another planet by an alien race.

It’s a heady film, but many have praised it for successfully adapting the delightful absurdity of Vonnegut’s prose.

Although the World War 2 sequences were shot in Prague, the rest of “Slaughterhouse-Five” was filmed in Minnesota — perhaps that’s because director George Roy Hill (who also helmed ‘70s classics “Butch Cassidy and the Sundance Kid” and “The Sting”) was born in Minneapolis. 

At number five on the list is  “Dear White People.” The 2014 Sundance hit is a biting satire of race relations at a fictional Ivy League post-secondary institute and was filmed at the University of Minnesota.

Featuring a breakout performance from Tessa Thompson, “Dear White People” would go on to be adapted into a Netflix series that ran from 2017-2021. Although Thompson didn’t return for the TV show, much of the original cast did. Unfortunately, they opted to shoot the series in L.A.

The sixth film is the beloved ‘90s comedy “Grumpy Old Men” about a pair of rival neighbors in rural Minnesota attempting to woo the new lady in town. 

The film stars Walter Matthau and Jack Lemmon. The pair have appeared opposite each other plenty over the years, beginning with the 1965 stage play “The Odd Couple,” which was written by the aforementioned Neil Simon.

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The Rest of Minnesota's Best

At number seven is “Catch Me If You Can” — no, not the 2002 Spielberg movie starring Leonardo DiCaprio.

1989’s “Catch Me If You Can” is an independently produced action-comedy about a group of high-schoolers who turn to drag racing to try and save their school from going bankrupt.

Written and directed by Stephen Sommers — and filmed at his St. Cloud Minnesota high school — “Catch Me If You Can” was a major failure upon its release, reportedly making less than $4,000 at the domestic box office. It would subsequently develop a cult following, and Sommers would go on to direct 1999’s box office hit, “The Mummy,” and its 2001 sequel “The Mummy Returns.”

Two beloved ‘90s kids' movies, both filmed in Minneapolis and set in the world of sports, find themselves at number nine and ten on the list — that would be “The Mighty Ducks” and “Little Big League,” respectively. 

The story of an egotistical lawyer who turns around a youth hockey team, “The Mighty Ducks” spawned two sequels, an animated series, a recent Disney+ reboot, and an NHL franchise.

That said, the less-seen “Little Big League,” about a 13-year-old who inherits the Minnesota Twins, was the preferred choice of Roger Ebert (and my two older brothers). 

Author

Jeff Parker is an entertainment writer for MinnesotaBets.com. A writer for film, television and the internet, Jeff is a life long movie buff, with a Masters Degree in Popular Culture. He lives in Halifax, Nova Scotia, where he works full time as documentary filmmaker and producer.