KEN BLOCK’s Gymkhana series is a viral media sensation, with each instalment reliably attracting hundreds of millions of views every year.
But it has been revealed overnight that NSW Police pushed back on plans for Block and his Hoonigan film crew to record the next part of the series (Gymkhana 9, due out Tuesday September 13th in the US) in the Sydney CBD.
The largest city in Australia was pitched as the venue for Gymkhana 9 as part of a tie-in with Microsoft’s Forza Horizon 3 video game, which allows players to drive across a collage of Down Under locations like the Great Ocean Road and Gold Coast hinterland, and is due to release later this month.
The first eight iterations of the Gymkhana series have been viewed a collective 331 million times on YouTube alone, and are consistently one of the most highly-anticipated automotive films of the year.
US site Jalopnik has revealed the Hoonigan film crew had permit applications to shoot in the Sydney CBD and on the Sydney Harbour Bridge denied by NSW Police.
This is despite the fact Block and his crew offered to produce an anti-hooning PSA free of charge, to help discourage the general public from driving like lunatics.
Production would have required parts of the Sydney CBD and Sydney Harbour Bridge be shut down for filming. The Hoonigan team has prior experience with such an exercise, shutting down large parts of Los Angeles over five days of shooting for Gymkhana 7.
Matt Tuccillo from Hoonigan spoke to Jalopnik about the issues they faced when dealing with NSW Police.
“The police down there [Australia] started to make things difficult with the permitting process for the locations we were trying to secure, both public and private,” he told the site.
“Apparently we were going to be ‘bad’ for Australia and as we got closer and closer to filming we started to lose more and more locations that we had secured, ultimately forcing us to abandon the concept.”
Tuccillo explained the team’s plan was to film in “locations that were iconic and instantly recognizable as Australian”.
NSW Police is yet to return a request for comment to Wheels.
It was suggested by the Police that the film crew shoot at Cockatoo Island. However, Tuccillo said that was an unsuitable location for the film.
“The main problem was that even with a place like Cockatoo, it didn’t give us enough for a whole video, especially with the backdrop being ‘Australia,’” he explained.
“Any public roads we had wanted access to (and none were major arteries or intersections, most were small roads near the waterfront with little traffic to be diverted) would have mandated us driving in a straight and orderly manner, maximum speed being whatever the speed limit was on that road.”
Ken Block’s Gymkhana films are famous for their outlandish driving, with massive tyre smoke, and high-speed manoeuvres.
With Sydney taken off the table, Block and the Hoonigan team filmed the ninth Gymkhana film in Buffalo, New York.
It appears the strong ‘speed kills’ and ‘anti-hooning’ stance of the NSW Police has resulted in Sydney missing the chance to be the background of a high-profile film.
Wheels will update the story once the NSW Police return our request for comment.
It should be noted that the term hoon carries much stronger meaning in Australia than it does in the US, where it is not as strongly associated with illegal activities.