Breaking Bad Sparks Unlikely Travel Boom

TV shows and movies have been inspiring people to travel for decades, and I’m sure many of us can relate to wanting to jet off to Paris or sip wine in Tuscany after seeing some on-screen character do just that.

But travel booms can also happen in the unlikeliest of places. Take for example the hit TV show Breaking Bad, which has sparked a surprising tourism boom in Albuquerque, New Mexico. The show about a high school chemistry teacher turned methamphetamine maker is not exactly a poster child for travel inspiration — in fact, the local tourism board didn’t even promote the show until it started filming its fifth season.

But while some locals dislike being associated with the show’s themes of drugs and violence, it’s hard to deny the boost the show has provided to the local economy. Restaurants where the show films are packed to the brim, candy shops sell rock candy that looks like crystal meth and local guides are run off their feet running Breaking Bad tours across the city.So what other unlikely cities have benefited from being featured on screen? We rounded up three destinations that became popular against the odds.

Detroit, Michigan: 8 Mile. This movie about white rapper Eminem’s attempt to launch his career attracted visitors to Detroit despite the film’s gritty portrayal of the Motor City. Tourists flocked to see the abandoned buildings, alleys embellished with graffiti and desolate landscape depicted onscreen.

Scranton, Pennsylvania: The Office. This long-running comedy was actually taped in California, but the tiny town of Scranton where the show is set experienced a surprising tourism boom as fans traveled to see their favorite landmarks from the show. The town of 76,000 fell on hard times after the coal industry collapsed in the 50s, but the recent TV-related tourism helped revitalize the downtown area with new restaurants and businesses.

Senoia, Georgia: The Walking Dead. This small town 25 miles south of Atlanta became a bustling tourist hub after a TV show about zombies was filmed there. Home to just over 3,000 people, Senoia attracted ten times that number in visitors who wanted to buy zombie-themed t-shirts and drink “Zombie Dark” coffee from the café featured in the show.

Have you ever visited a town because of a show that was filmed there?

Director of Forged spills on Scranton, PA

Forged is a recently-released movie that explores the stories within deep family bonds and the quest for redemption. Directed by William Wedig, the movie was shot in Scranton, Pennsylvania in February 2009. According to Wedig, 2009 was actually the coldest winter in Scranton over the last 50 years. The cinematography in Forged nonetheless came out beautifully. The crisp and dreary shots of the naked trees sent chills down my spine when paired with the striking plot of the movie. I watched Forged in New York City just before it won Best Picture at the New York International Latino Film Festival. The New York Times just reviewed the film yesterday here. Check out this Q&A with Wedig wherein he dishes on what it was like to capture Scranton on film.

1. Who did the cinematography for your movie, Forged?

My cinematographer is a guy named Zues Morand. He does a lot of music videos and he’s super talented and really versatile. If you need somebody to shoot something, definitely look him up. Zeus Morand on shooting Forged: “The characters in Forged were all flawed and weathered. We tried to choose locations that were aged, rusted, and reflected the history they had seen.”

(That’s Morand, the cinematographer, in the green.)

2. Forged displays Scranton in a way I haven’t seen before. The footage of the landscape looked dreary, because it was winter, but simultaneously beautiful. How did you go about scouting locations for the shoot?

When we were trying to find our locations in and around Scranton, we wanted to make sure that we showed that duality between the dreary, lonely, cold nature of the place, and the beauty which exists in a place so rustic. We were originally going to make the film in Texas but it just seemed better to put it in a place that’s so cold and beautiful. It’s like the cloud that hangs over these characters because of the past never escapes them. It’s always a part of their world.

3. You shot in February 2009 and you say that was the coldest winter in Scranton in 50 years. How did your team cope with shooting outside for long hours at a time in this kind of weather?

Well shooting in those sort of locations was a challenge. I couldn’t feel my feet for about two months and we’d make fires in cans or find a nearby shelter so people could cycle in and out. Some places didn’t have heat like the Lace Mill which has been shut down since the late 80’s or so. It was gorgeous though and there was talk of converting them into studios which is a great idea. It made it hard with the snow, but when you believe in the story you’re telling, it really isn’t that hard to motivate yourself.

(That’s Wedig on the left and lead actor Perez on the right.)

4. I’m assuming that throughout the shoot, you and your team discovered a thing or two about Scranton. Have any favorite locations?

There’s a couple places in Scranton that I like. Lake Scranton is gorgeous and when I saw it I knew I had to shoot there. Russells restaurant is fantastic (and they even donated film to us), but they have amazing chicken and pasta, and the Mohegan Sun in Wilkes-Barre is always fun to hit up and spend a few dollars and maybe make some back. We had a great time there, and even had some interesting adventures with Zeus at Hardware Bar in downtown. We loved shooting there and really the whole town helped us out.

Forged has won more than the New York International Latino Film Festival. Forged received ‘Official Selection’ at the Los Angeles International Latino Film Festival, ‘Outstanding Film Award’ at the Providence Latin American Film Festival, and ‘Official Selection’ at the San Diego Latino Film Festival. Starring Manny Perez, Margo Martindale, David Castro, Jaime Tirelli and Kevin Breznahan, Forged opens tomorrow in NYC at Quad Cinema (34 West 13th street NY, NY). Forged is hitting the road, as well. Forged will be showing in Los Angeles tomorrow evening, in San Diego and San Antonio August 5th, in Dallas August 12th, in Miami September 9th, in San Francisco September 16th, and Chicago dates are coming. For more information, check out the the website: In the meantime, check out the trailer below.

The TV Show The Office is Boosting Scranton Tourism

In case you don’t know this, Dunder Mifflin, the paper company of the show The Office isn’t in Scranton, Pennsylvania. It doesn’t even exist. That’s one thing about Scranton that’s fictitious. There are more. According to Jan Chaney’s Washington Post article Hooters isn’t in Scranton. Benihana isn’t either. Just because those places aren’t in Scranton, doesn’t mean every detail is made up. Local places do get mentioned to add a flavor of authenticity.

Because of The Office’s success, Scranton is getting a tourist following and the city is recognizing there is tourist dollar potential in maximizing the relationship between reality and fiction. At the end of October, 26-28, there is The Office Convention where fans of the show can converge on Scranton to meet some of the cast and participate in a variety of Office related activities. Screenings of episodes at movie theaters are part of it. So is a cast member look-a-like contest. All cast members aren’t coming, but who cares? The ones who are are a hoot. Check this link for the list and updates. Steve Carell, Rainn Wilson, Jenna Fisher and John Krasinski are currently not on the list.

You can purchase tickets on-line. Prices range from $25 to $250. Tickets that include visits with cast members are $50 and up.