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Iowa Time Machine: Twister - May 10, 1996

Iowa Time Machine ⏰: On May 10, 1996, the movie “Twister” debuted in theaters. While set in Oklahoma, the blockbuster movie shot the climatic F5 tornado scene near Eldora, Iowa, and another near Ames.

Directed by Jan de Bont and starring Helen Hunt, Bill Paxton, and Cary Elwes, the movie opens with TV weatherman Bill Harding trying to get his tornado-hunter wife, Jo, to sign divorce papers so he can marry his girlfriend Melissa. But Mother Nature, in the form of a series of intense storms sweeping across Oklahoma, has other plans. Soon the three have joined the team of storm chasers as they attempt to insert a revolutionary measuring device into the very heart of several extremely violent tornadoes.

De Bont insisted the film be shot on location in Oklahoma, seeking to make the film "the last great action movie not shot on a soundstage.” However, due to changing seasons massively transforming the look of Oklahoma's landscape, filming moved to Iowa during the later scenes. The climactic scene with the F5 tornado was almost entirely shot around Eldora, with the cornfield the characters run through located near Ames.

“Twister” grossed $495 million worldwide, good for second-highest-grossing film of 1996 while selling an estimated 54.7 million tickets in the United States. The film received generally positive reviews from critics and also garnered Academy Award nominations for Best Visual Effects and Best Sound. A standalone sequel, “Twisters,” will release in July 2024. #IowaOTD


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