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Park City Film Hopes Reopen Santy Auditorium In February

Park City Library

In a normal year this would be a very busy time of the year for the Park City Film Series. Films would be show three – sometimes four nights every week. And volunteers would also be busy selling concessions during the 10 days of Sundance. While the theater remains dark, the Film Series is hoping to get back into the theater next month.

Park City Film Series Director Katy Wang says she’s taking the lead from Salt Lake County arts organizations and will staying closed through February. At the same time, she says she’ll be before the Park City Council  February 4th to see if they’re agreeable to open up the theater that’s been dark for nearly a year – with small group screenings.

“We've found in other art house theaters across the country that folks seem to be a little more comfortable, showing up to see first run movies if they're with people that they know - their COVID clusters - so we're talking to the city, see if that's something that we can do both for paid screenings, but also for, for some of our free screenings,” Wang said.

If the city nixes the small groups in February, Wang says they will plan to return with regular weekend films in March.

“We’ll see what they say and if that's something that ends up not being something, we'll be able to do, then we will open up,” she said. “The plan at this point is in March - to open up for regular weekend screenings and hope that people will come out and we've got some strict COVID protocols in place, with the help of the health department and the city. So, creating a safe environment for them to get back into theaters and safely enjoy movies again together.”

In a normal year, the Film Series would not be showing films at the Santy Auditorium this week because Sundance would have taken over the theater. While that means she doesn’t have to fill dozens of volunteer shifts to sell concessions for 15 hours a day, it’s a big financial hit to the organization  – on top of an already difficult year.

You know this is about 15% of our revenue in an average year,” Wang said. “So it's a pretty big, big loss for us and that’s, you know, it's also kind of part of who we are. You know we got started back 26, years ago, when the Sundance Film Festival decided to use the Jim Santy Auditorium as one of the venues. And so, they got all these volunteers from local volunteers to sell concessions and tickets. And then in return, we got to show Sundance films throughout the rest of the year. And certainly, we've evolved from that over time - but you know it’s kind of  the fabric of who Park City Film is so it's not just a loss of revenue but it's a little bit of an existential loss  -  a loss that could cut, particularly deep  for us this year.”

For now, Wang says they will continue to offer virtual screenings for the next several months for those people who aren’t ready to come back into the theater. She says virtually, they’re able to offer several films with different genres at the same time.

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