At the tip of the 1991 film Thelma & Louise, the 2 main women — fugitives cornered by authorities within the Grand Canyon — determine towards surrendering and as an alternative drive off a cliff. One of cinema’s most iconic endings wasn’t filmed within the nationwide park in Arizona, however not for lack of making an attempt.
“We didn’t wish to encourage folks coming into the canyon doing what was accomplished within the film, so we declined it,” mentioned Maureen Oltrogge, a longtime spokeswoman for the nationwide park who retired in 2014. Nevertheless, Oltrogge mentioned a minimum of two folks took their very own lives by driving over the rim of the Grand Canyon after the film was launched, considering it was filmed there.
The panorama in and round one of many world’s seven pure wonders has an extended historical past of stunts being staged — or turned down. An acrobat, a magician and total daredevils are amongst those that have approached Grand Canyon National Park over time with visions of a made-for-TV second.
The newest deliberate feat will likely be Tuesday (Sept. 25) when actor Will Smith celebrates his 50th birthday by bungee leaping from a helicopter. While it’s been billed as a leap “within the coronary heart of the Grand Canyon,” it truly will happen over a smaller gorge on the Navajo Nation, a tribe whose reservation borders the east rim of the nationwide park.
Getting permission to movie or stage one thing within the Grand Canyon means assembly lots of standards. Among the outrageous proposals the park has declined was within the 1990s, when now-deceased artist Ron Nicolino collected 1000’s of bras that he wished to string throughout the Grand Canyon. The park mentioned no. Grand Canyon spokeswoman Kari Cobb mentioned Smith didn’t method the park for the bungee leap, however it wouldn’t be allowed anyway. She mentioned the park is liable for defending its property.
“It’s every thing regarding security, impacts to guests and impacts to the sources,” she mentioned. Oltrogge mentioned different filming initiatives have been turned down due to their measurement, the affect to tourism and since they didn’t align with the park’s academic values. The park additionally has rejected requests for ride-along prison justice packages, and to launch jet engines from rim to rim.
Todd Berger, creator of It Happened at Grand Canyon, says the earliest-known publicized stunt he can recall from his analysis of the Grand Canyon was an airplane touchdown close to Plateau Point within the early 1920s. Ellsworth Kolb and a swashbuckling pilot took off from the plateau beneath the South Rim and “spiraled” up and out of the canyon in entrance of huge crowds and cameras.
The Grand Canyon is alluring for promotional function as a result of it’s “world-famous, spectacular and scary to most individuals,” Berger mentioned in an e mail. In 1999 and 2011, Robbie Knievel, the son of stunt performer Evel Knievel, and Swiss ator Yves Rossy, respectively, approached Grand Canyon National Park with requests to leap a part of the canyon and soar over it in a jet swimsuit.
After being rejected, each males went to the Hualapai Tribe, whose reservation stretches 100 miles (160 kilometers) alongside the Grand Canyon’s west rim. The tribe agreed, and each efficiently accomplished their feats. The Hualapai additionally allowed illusionist Criss Angel in 2010 to be shackled and locked inside a crate that was suspended over the sting of the Grand Canyon.
The tribe is best-known for its Grand Canyon Skywalk, a horseshoe-shaped glass bridge that juts over the canyon overlooking the Colorado River. The tribe’s Grand Canyon Resort Corp. mentioned any occasion should be respectful of Hualapai tradition and per its model. “Our Tribal Council would want to approve any proposal, and that’s a excessive bar,” CEO Colin McBeath mentioned in an announcement. “We wish to defend the canyon and the companies we now have labored so onerous to determine and develop.”
Robert Bravo Jr., a tribal member who has served because the company’s chief government and as a member of its board, mentioned the stunts had been a solution to showcase to the tribe to the world. Special permission for filming and photographs additionally is required. “They have been obligatory to actually promote what we now have and who we’re,” he mentioned. “But now that we’re on the map, it’s not as a lot of a necessity.”
One request the Hualapai declined was when aerial artist Nik Wallenda wished to stroll a tightrope over the canyon in 2013. Bravo mentioned it was too dangerous. “The canyon may be very sacred and really religious to the Hualapai folks, and God forbid one thing occur to him whereas he’s on the market,” he mentioned. Wallenda ended up getting permission from the Navajo Nation to stroll a 5-centimeter-thick metal cable 1,476 toes (450 meters) over the Little Colorado River gorge, simply east of Grand Canyon National Park. The roughly 22-minute act was broadcast stay on the Discovery Channel.
That is the place Smith will likely be making his massive leap. Navajo Nation spokesman Mihio Manus mentioned any stunt or filming mission within the tribe’s Little Colorado River park requires a particular allow. Applicants define their plans and fill out paperwork. If a division supervisor approves, they discuss concerning the scope of the occasion and placement. Environmental and wildlife officers additionally weigh in earlier than a allow could be issued and a payment assessed.
Manus declined to touch upon Smith’s leap. The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air actor teamed up with charity web site Omaze to make his bungee leap a fundraiser. The web site launched a lottery for a fan to be chosen to witness the leap and meet Smith. Attempts to succeed in Smith have been unsuccessful.