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‘El Camino’ roars into local theaters

Aaron Paul reprises his role as Jesse Pinkman in the Netflix film, “El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie.” Production of the film took place for four months in Albuquerque. It opens Friday at local theaters. (Ben Rothstein/Netflix)

Copyright © 2019 Albuquerque Journal

Melissa Bernstein remembers when Albuquerque took a chance on “Breaking Bad.”

In 2007, the production was looking to film its pilot – and Albuquerque fit the bill.

On Friday, fans all over the world will take a ride in “El Camino.” And Albuquerque will once again be in the spotlight.

Bernstein is a co-executive producer on “Breaking Bad,” as well as “Better Call Saul” and the coming “El Camino: A Breaking Bad Movie.”

“Starting out when we had the pilot, (the city of) Albuquerque was able to see what we were trying to do,” Bernstein said. “We were telling the story of a teacher with cancer who begins to sell crystal meth. It was a very edgy storyline. It wasn’t clear to most people, but we found a community that understood what we were trying to do. Albuquerque got behind the project and became an integral part of the series.”

“El Camino” will begin streaming on Netflix, as well as playing in select theaters Friday through Sunday – the KiMo Theatre and Icon Cinemas in Albuquerque and The Screen in Santa Fe.

“It was thrilling to have the opportunity and get the gang back together,” Bernstein said. “I felt like there was still an interesting layered story to tell. Being back in Albuquerque, I love the people. It’s been such a welcoming community. Starting with ‘Breaking Bad’ and then ‘Better Call Saul,’ it’s a community that has welcomed us onto their streets and into their homes.”

Production for “El Camino” began in November 2018 and took place through February.

Keeping it under the radar was no easy task.

“We put a lot of time and effort in coming up with ways to keep the story line under wraps,” Bernstein said. “The production schedule also remained under wraps. We wouldn’t have been able to do it anywhere else. Only in Albuquerque.”

The film centers on Jesse Pinkman, played by Emmy Award winner Aaron Paul, who after breaking free from captivity has to come to terms with his past to move forward.

According to the New Mexico Film Office, the production employed about 300 New Mexico crew members, 16 New Mexico actors and about 450 New Mexico background talent workers.

Bruce Krasnow, public information officer for the New Mexico Economic Development Department, said “Breaking Bad” first came to New Mexico because of the state’s strong incentives for film and television production.

“It stayed here because the producers realized we have talented crews, a great climate and something no one quite expected: a uniqueness of place that became another character in the show,” he said.

“‘Breaking Bad’ showed others in the industry that New Mexico’s light, desert vistas, culture and sense of place was like no place else and could sustain an audience through several seasons,” Krasnow said. “The secret is now out, and you are seeing more and more productions coming to New Mexico to catch the landscapes and visual amenities that those who live here get to experience every day.”

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