The Best MN-Made Flicks and Where They Were Filmed

Check out the film locations for several movies made in Minnesota, including First Avenue, the University of Minnesota, Mickey’s Diner, and more.

Minnesota may not be as well known as Los Angeles or New York for its film industry, but several truly iconic films have been made here. From a classic like Grumpy Old Men to a more recent gem, Dear White People, Minnesota has been host to many a fine film. The beautiful Minnesotan locations used in these films warrant a visit from film-buffs and casual movie-goers alike. 

1. Purple Rain (1984)

The classic 1984 film Purple Rain follows the Kid (Prince), a Minneapolis musician on the rise with his band, the Revolution. The film launched one of the most successful soundtracks of all time. Most of the film was shot in Minneapolis, and the production shut down First Avenue for nearly a month to film its performance scenes.

2. The Mighty Ducks (1992)

Minnesota is well-known as a state full of hockey-lovers, so it makes sense that Disney chose to film The Mighty Ducks and all its sequels here. The entire movie was produced in Minnesota. Rice Park in downtown St. Paul and Minneapolis’ Elliot Park are featured in the film, as well as an ice sculpture from the annual St. Paul Winter Carnival. You can also see the team riding attractions at Nickelodeon Universe (formerly Camp Snoopy) at the Mall of America.

3. Grumpy Old Men (1993)

This iconic film series starring comedy veterans Jack Lemmon and Walter Mathau, highlight the longtime Minnesota tradition of ice fishing. The ice fishing scenes were filmed on part of the Lake Rebecca Reserve, a 2,200-acre park in Rockford, Minnesota. The film was set in Wabasha but filmed in several Minnesotan towns, including Rockford, Red Wing, Faribault, Stillwater, Chanhassen, and St. Paul. Wabasha hosts the Grumpy Old Men Festival every February with an ice fishing contest, the grumpy plunge, a grumpy costume contest, and more.

4. Fargo (1996)

Although Fargo is located in North Dakota, the film Fargo, written by Minnesota natives Joel and Ethan Coen, put Minnesota on the map. Just a few locations used in the film include a restaurant called Lakeside Club in Mahtomedi, Edina City Hall, and the Chanhassen Dinner Theatres. The production shot in many locations throughout the state, but the small resort towns of the Brainerd Lakes area especially captured the Minnesotan lifestyle.

5. Jingle All the Way (1996)

This holiday movie classic follows mattress salesman Howard Langston (Arnold Schwarzenegger) as he attempts to make up for not paying enough attention to his son by getting him TurboMan, the hot new toy of the season. He gets into all sorts of shenanigans while trying to get the toy and it takes him to a variety of Twin Cities locations, including the Mall of America, Mickey’s Diner, and downtown St. Paul.

6. Drop Dead Gorgeous (1999)

Drop Dead Gorgeous is a mockumentary/comedy full of stereotypical Minnesotan accents and a stellar cast, including Kirsten Dunst, Denise Richards, Kirstie Alley, and Amy Adams. Kirsten Dunst’s character, Amber Atkins, is a funeral-home beautician auditioning in the Mount Rose American Teen Princess Pageant. When several contestants are murdered, the town incompetently searches for the killer. Although the film is set in the fictional small town of Mount Rose, Minnesota, it was filmed in various locations in Minnesota, including Farmington, Chaska, and Waconia, where the gigantic burning swan parade float scene took place on First Street.

7. Dear White People (2014)

Written and directed by Justin Simian, the film Dear White People became a 2014 Sundance hit and inspired a popular Netflix series of the same name. The film follows the perspective of several black students at a predominately white Ivy League college as a campus culture war between white and black students comes to a head when the staff of a humor magazine stages an offensive Halloween party. Parts of the film were shot in Minneapolis and St. Paul. Specifically, the University of Minnesota Twin Cities campus was used, including the Big M Bridge, Folwell Hall, and Northrup Auditorium. The interior of the Women’s Club of Minneapolis was also used.

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