Bryan Cranston (C), star of the TV series "Breaking Bad"
Albuquerque - AFP
It's been 15 months since the finale of "Breaking Bad", and tourism linked to the hit television series is flagging slightly -- but it could be reignited by a new spinoff series.
"Better Call Saul", based on teacher-turned-druglord Walter White's lawyer, is due to air starting in February, and locals in New Mexico are hopeful it will be as successful as the original series.
"They can't get enough of the show because it's gone, so what's the next best thing to do? Go to the city where it was filmed," said Frank Sandoval of Breaking Bad RV Tours, which takes fans to filming locations for the cult TV show.
"'Breaking Bad' is going to be around a long time, especially with... 'Better Call Saul,' that's going to keep it alive," Sandoval, an actor who had a small part in the series, told AFP.
Since the series launched in 2008, Albuquerque has become something of a mecca for fans of the AMC series, which follows the transformation of White (played by Bryan Cranston) from a chemistry teacher into a methamphetamine kingpin.
The show's success has had a significant economic impact on the region. But after five seasons and 62 episodes, worldwide acclaim and 16 Emmy awards, the series came to a climax in September last year.
The series has ended, but the famous RV from "Breaking Bad" is still alive and kicking. At least a replica of it is. This one isn't a meth lab, it's a tourist bus.
Fans pay $75 for the Breaking Bad RV tour. One couple came all the way from New York to visit the shooting locations.
"I was obsessed with the show for a while. So now I'm in front of Walt's house, that's where the magic happened. It's amazing," said fan Ryan Todd.
Sandoval is not alone in having built a business on the success of the hit series. A local candy shop makes sweets that look just like the blue meth that White, aka Heisenberg, cooks on the show.
Debby Ball, owner of the "The Candy Lady" boutique, said she is realistic about prospects for "Breaking Bad" tourism.
"Of course it's going to slow down, but we'll always have the die-hard fans that couldn't get here. This is the first year after the show ended, and we had a huge number of European tourists."
Thanks to the worldwide success of "Breaking Bad" and to a 30 percent tax break for movie studios, many more productions have made their way to New Mexico.
A recent study claims the industry has created as many as 15,000 jobs in the state. The new "Avengers" movie, a multimillion-dollar blockbuster, was also shot here recently.
"You have productions that can come in and spend -- literally some very large productions -- in about nine months, spend close to a hundred million dollars," said New Mexico Film Office director Nick Maniatis.
"So that's money going into our economy."
"Breaking Bad" really put New Mexico on the map, for TV and movie producers.
"It brought the sense that big productions, television production can be done in our state... our (film and TV) crew is as good as it gets. They can go up against LA or New York any time, any day of the week," Maniatis said.
"They brought a cachet to the state that's fantastic."
Although he may miss the series, Maniatis said he prefers to look to the future.
"I just feel lucky... these guys did a great job so were all very lucky that it had the kind of impact that it had," he said. "We'll always have 'Breaking Bad.'"
But he added: "I'm moving on to 'Better Call Saul.'"