A traditional American RV is something of an institution enjoyed by families across the country. Did you know, more than 11 million families across the country now own an RV? 11% of all households headed by a 35-54-year-old own one, which now exceeds the 55 and over category, which is 9.3%. Owning an RV is no longer something for retirement, but a lifestyle choice for the young as well, with up to 17 million households looking to buy one.
What is fueling this trend?
Undoubtedly, the recent pandemic will have had an impact, with foreign travel much more challenging, people will be seeking cheaper domestic options for their vacations. An increase in the number of households rated as middle-class is also likely to help – CNBC suggests up to 52% of all US families live in a middle-class household with an income of around $78,000. With the motivation and the means, the families that desire an RV could easily buy one.
Finally, depictions of the RV in popular films is sure to help. Whether they feature in a road trip movie, as part of a plot device in a thriller or even in a b-movie style zombie horror, putting an RV on screen puts them in people’s minds. There have been plenty of films featuring RVs over the years, some of which might not seem aspirational, but all of them further lodge the humble US RV in America’s psyche. Are these movies the reason RV ownership is booming in the US? Even if they’re not, any self-respecting RV owner or fan should be aware of them!
The Blues Brothers (1980)
The Blues Brother might be more than 40-years-old, but it is still a classic and one of the best to feature an RV. Their vehicle is described as a Winnebago in the film, but it isn’t; it is a Fleetwood Southwind. The film was famous for its amusing script and plot and its superb soundtrack, which captured the imagination of music fans and filmgoers. Even a video game was released bearing the imagery of Jake and Elroy, dropping 12 years after the film was released and giving it a boost in popularity. A sequel film and game were released in 1998, but both were flops, with the film grossing just $14m from a budget of $28m.
National Lampoons Christmas Vacation (1989)
The National Lampoons series, starring Chevy Chase and Beverly D’Angelo, was a cultural phenomenon in the late eighties. With plenty of slapstick comedy, they were family-friendly movies that didn’t take themselves too seriously. We’re not sure RV owners will have been deeply influenced by the 1989 film though, when Cousin Eddie turns up in a battered RV and empties his chemical toilet into Clark Griswold’s drains. The film also saw a young Juliette Lewis take up the role of Audrey, and she would be back in an RV seven years later.
From Dusk Till Dawn (1996)
Lewis was one of Harvey Keitel’s two family members in From Dusk Till Dawn, which started as a cops and robbers film and quickly descended into a zombie horror-thriller of sorts. Keitel drove the RV in question, but they got hijacked by George Clooney and the film’s writer, Quentin Tarantino. From Dusk Till Dawn was the first paid writing assignment for Tarantino, and it featured an ensemble cast that also included Selma Hayek and Fred ‘The Hammer’ Williamson. The film was a huge success, not just at the box office, where it took $59.3m from a budget of just $19m, but also in popular culture. Not only did it spawn a handful of direct-to-video sequels and a television series, but it also featured in the world of video gaming. There is an online slot on Gala Casino called From Dusk Till Dawn 10, which bears the likeness of Clooney’s character Seth Gecko, right down to the flame tattoo on his neck. There was also a more direct interpretation on Windows, titled From Dusk Till Dawn, released in 2001. Sadly, neither featured the RV.
Where else to end an article about RVs in movies than a movie bearing the title RV? This Robin Williams comedy might not be considered one of his best works, but it is a superb film about an American road trip, which is undoubtedly what owning an RV is all about. There is plenty to laugh at here, and all through the movie, you get great shots of the 35-foot Georgetown 359 Williams drives. There is also plenty of screen time for a classic 1948 Flxible Clipper, driven by Jeff Daniels.
If you decide to get that RV and hit the open road, be sure you are covered by RV Advisor products and services!