(AP Photo/Gramercy Pictures, File)
Some residents initially didn't appreciate the dark humor or were offended by the extreme violence. Not to mention those heavy accents on "you betcha" and "ya sure."
But the fame and cash it brought Fargo eventually brought them around.
Sixteen years later, Fargo awaits the debut of a cable television show by the same name, and many residents are less apprehensive about how their hometown will be portrayed this time.
"Anything the Coen brothers (Joel and Ethan, the film's directors and TV show's producers) are going to be involved in is going to be brilliant," said Kristin Rudrud, 57, who played a supporting role in the movie. "And they love Fargo. ... So it will be done in a very fun and loving way."
(AP Photo/The Forum, Nick Carlson)
Though the movie's story is mostly based in Minnesota, it made Fargo a household name for many across the country -- to the early dismay of some residents who watched the premiere at the Fargo Theater in 1996. The theater was quiet, and some moviegoers were offended, said Margie Bailly, who was executive director of the Fargo Theater at the time.
But locals warmed up as the film was nominated for seven Academy Awards, and Fargo began to see the benefits from the publicity. The theater hosted a free Oscar party with a polka band and Jell-O treats that Entertainment Weekly billed as one of the top soirees of the evening.
That event was publicized in several countries, and Fargo cashed in. Donations flowed for the theater's restoration, which dovetailed with plans to revitalize the city's downtown.
Sixteen years later, travelers looking to see the real Fargo still swing through, with many flocking to take pictures next to the memorable wood chipper, autographed on the chute by the Coen brothers and displayed at the city's main tourism center.
City boosters hope the TV show will add to the notoriety. No timeline has been announced by the FX Network.
"I don't know how it can be a bad thing for us," said Charley Johnson, president and CEO of the city's convention and visitor's bureau. "People still talk about the movie all the time."