MEREDITH JENKS for EW
Jake Perlman
November 07, 2014 AT 05:00 AM EST

It’s been a decade since America voted for Pedro and made Napoleon Dynamite a hipster touchstone. The 2004 indie comedy, about a small-town loser (Jon Heder) with mad dance skills determined to elect his pal Pedro (Efren Ramirez) class president, divided audiences when it debuted at the Sundance Film Festival. But Fox Searchlight saw the zeitgeist-shifting potential of director Jared Hess’ first film (written with his wife, Jerusha) and turned the $400,000 oddball into a sleeper hit that raked in $45 million. How did that happen? With the help of the stars — and one stand-in llama — EW went searching for answers.

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