ALBUQUERQUE, NM (KRQE) – The New Mexico film industry has raised millions of dollars in direct and additional expenses on production over the years. But it has also helped create a niche in tourism that has opened up lucrative careers for entrepreneurs in New Mexico.
Spend any time driving the streets of Albuquerque and you’re sure to see a rundown retro RV made famous by the Sony Pictures TV series “Breaking Bad”. And while you won’t find Walter White or Jesse Pinkman behind the wheel, you’ll meet a few superfans who have turned their devotion to the series into a lucrative career.
“If it weren’t for Breaking Bad, or if it were better to call Saul or El Camino now, we wouldn’t be in business,” says Frank Sandoval. “We owe everything to the film industry.”
Frank and Jackie Sandoval were both tied to the corporate world before two layoffs changed their careers. “A friend from Florida said, ‘Well, you should do a Breaking Bad tour, but you should do it in a Breaking Bad RV,'” says Frank.
The Sandovals found the first of three Fleetwood Bounders in Arizona and quickly learned that maintaining their precious rides would be no easy task. “Boy, did we have trouble bringing it back,” says Jackie.
“The rear gasoline pump was turned upside down, so the mechanical pump was pulling gas and the rear one was trying to get it back into the gas tank,” Frank adds.
After thousands of dollars in repairs and renovations, the first Breaking Bad RV Tour debuted at Albuquerque Comic-Con 2015, giving devoted fans the chance to see iconic filming locations in the seats of a tricked-out “Crystal Ship”.
“We just started doing the touring business full time and it’s been going great since then. I’m shocked that it’s still going, ”says Jackie Sandoval. Since starting their small business, Frank and Jackie have hosted thousands of fans from around the country and around the world, which shows the popularity of Breaking Bad around the world. And that popularity has turned into a life marked by passion and ingenuity.
“It brought me an income that corresponds to what I made at HP,” says Frank.
Although the Breaking Bad universe is now more than a decade old, the Sandovals don’t see interest in their tours waning anytime soon, especially with the final season of Better Call Saul slated for 2022.
“I think it’s more popular now than when the tours started. We are now seeing a whole new generation of fans. These are people who haven’t seen it before, who actually see it now. And with all that binge watching, I’m seeing an incredible surge in popularity, ”says Frank.
The RV tour starts all week in the old town and takes about three hours. The company also offers a virtual tour on its website.