RV rental companies are hoping the recently released Robin Williams movie, “RV,” will do for their business what last year’s hit “Sideways” did for pinot noir.
The Press Enterprise, Riverside, Calif., reported that some recreational vehicle firms say the comedy, which opened April 28, has already had a positive effect. Others say high gas prices are hurting too much, dragging down reservations or causing cancellations.
The slapstick movie, which opened about 10 days ago and was No. 1 at the box office during its first weekend with $16.4 million in ticket sales, is about an overworked father who takes his family on a trip from California to Colorado in a rented motor home.
It depicts some pitfalls of RV travel, like sewage malfunctions and driving problems. But is also sends a message that families can have a good time and bond in an RV, said Joe Laing, a spokesman for El Monte RV, an RV rental chain.
Laing predicted such a rush because of the movie that it limited advance bookings by overseas customers so it could handle the volume, Laing said.
“RV rentals are so hot now because of the movie. We are booking out much earlier than we usually do. We are up 20 percent domestically,” he said. El Monte has more than 30 dealerships nationwide, including one in San Bernardino, Calif.
He added, “Nobody is happy about gas prices. That is universal, but the reality is, for a motorhome rental, it is such a small part of the trip.”
About 35% of U.S. customers wait until one week before they travel to rent an RV, he said. This year, they may have to make plans much earlier.
But Jim Kitley, owner of Freedom RV Rentals in Murrieta, Calif., said some customers have canceled reservations and vacations because of high gas prices.
“Gasoline is expensive,” he said. “If it doesn’t fit in your budget, you don’t go.”
So far, Kitley said no one has rented an RV from him because of the movie, but he wouldn’t mind seeing that change. “We would all appreciate it,” he said.
Michelle Bradshaw, manager of Happy Camper Rental & Sales in Riverside, hasn’t seen an effect from the movie either. Although gas prices are keeping some people away, Bradshaw said she is already half-booked through the summer, which is normal for early May.