The last vestige of long lines to get tickets to the Sundance Film Festival is ending. Starting with the 2019 festival, all tickets will be acquired digitally. KPCW’s Leslie Thatcher has more.
Long time Park City residents may remember the long lines that used to stretch down Main Street as locals would like up in the cold and snow to have the first chance to acquire local tickets.
Over the last five years, those lines have gone away as tickets are chosen online at a given time. The only line ups any more were for a Saturday morning in January when locals would like up to acquire their free tickets to the Townie Tuesday or Best of Fest screenings.
But for the coming festival, that will change. Sundance Institute Managing Director Betsy Wallace says there was concern that the tickets were going to non-locals.
"We really want to make sure that the benefits that we have for our local base and our local residents really goes for locals. So, this year we’re utilizing our e-wait list and you go online, you wait list, and you show up to the theater and you will get a free ticket at that theater in exchange for showing your local ID. So, in essence you have to really be a local to get that benefit and it helps us get that benefit to where it really needs to be.”
Some long time Sundance ticket holders are upset about the changes and say with a ticket in hand, it’s a guarantee. Under the e-wait system, they’ll be forced to hold this time open and could be left empty handed – without the opportunity to have tried to purchase a ticket for the same time frame. Wallace says they want to see how it works this year.
We’re trying to meet the needs and the wants of people making sure that non-locals don’t take those tickets and that the true base of those tickets get to the locals. So again, it’s a test I hope that people will bear with us as we work through it this year and see if it works. Again, if it doesn’t, we’ll try to move back to the old way. I’ve grown up the old way myself. Being here 17 years and I understand that familiarity of getting down to the Gateway. But again, we’re just trying to make it easier and the benefits getting to the right hands.”
For those who plan to waitlist and find themselves in a film when the waitlist opens, Wallace is hopeful they will keep their phones off.
“We’re going to be very clear about you have to keep your cell phones off. Again, you know, we pray that people will abide by that. It does disrupt the movie that people have paid good money to see. And that we hope that people are good stewards of being part of the film festival and seeing the films. So, you bring up a point that we hope does not occur, but we’ll keep our eyes open for it.”
For those who want to e-wait list, you’ll need to have a smart phone or tablet. There will also be computers at the Prospector Marriott headquarters for people to log onto if needed.
If you’re going to waitlist or purchase local tickets when they go on sale January 17th at noon - make sure you have an account or updated your account.
Locals will have access to tickets five days before ticket sales open to the general public.
“So, locals I would really suggest you go on line now - confirm your account is up and running or set up your account up and make sure you have it accurate with all of the information. You can go right now go online to sundance.org\festival\ and you’ll go into a screen that has a lot of tiles but there’s two tiles one called programs and one called schedule. And you can see the movies. The program will tell you all about the movies and the schedule will tell you the screenings and the theaters and the times, so you can get down and create your list and get all ready. But then on January 17th when you get online, you’re ready to go.”
You will have to have your local ID to pick up your tickets. You can also now download the 2019 Festival mobile app.