Sundance ’08: bookings start now | ParkRecord.com

Sundance ’08: bookings start now

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

John Duvivier’s telephone was ringing even before the 2007 Sundance Film Festival wrapped on Sunday.

The marketing director for R & R Properties, which rents houses and condominiums in the Park City area, reports the firm received about 50 calls during the festival from people interested in renting during the 2008 edition of Sundance.

Just less than 10 people have already booked for 2008, he says, including those who have reserved large houses in Old Town, an easy walk to the festival commotion on Main Street. The 2008 festival is scheduled Jan. 17-27.

"People often want exactly what they prefer, as close to Main Street as possible and things like that," Duvivier says.

The trend of early deals seems to be expanding as competition becomes greater for lodging and for corporate rentals during Sundance, which in recent years has become more popular with fans and marketers.

Businesses and people with properties to rent are starting to market their places early. Online advertisements are selling rentals for the 2008 festival and on Main Street some businesses are considering their options.

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Sundance has become a highly lucrative period for businesses owners and people with lodging who choose to rent their places to the festival crowds. The businesses, especially those on Main Street, say that they can make more money renting their places than keeping their regular operations open during the festival. The lodging owners, meanwhile, command some of the highest prices of the year during Sundance, with lots of rates soaring toward $1,000 per night.

"A few years ago, I would say it was unusual," Duvivier says.

Online, some of the ads are not listing prices, but the lodging is targeting the Sundance crowd.

One urges people to "secure your place at the 2008 Sundance Film Festival" as it touts Jan. 19- 26, 2008 availability for up to six people at the Park Plaza. Another is seeking rentals for the Marriott Mountainside and promotes the ability to "walk to events at Sundance 2008."

At the Westgate at The Canyons, someone is advertising a Jan. 20, 2008 check-in date for seven nights, calling the place "convenient, and short 3 miles distance to Park City for Sundance Week festivities."

"I know it’s early, but what the heck," the advertisement says.

The early advertisements seem to be targeting industry types who go to the festival each year. Regular festival-goers likely do not make arrangements a year before opening night and filmmakers typically are not selected for the festival until much later.

But the industry — studio executives and marketing teams, for instance — attends Sundance each year. The same goes for the corporate interests that arrive annually — festival sponsors and other firms that want to market to the festival crowds.

The festival-goers spend millions of dollars during Sundance, an estimated $52.9 million in Summit County during the 2006 festival, a study found after last year’s event. That year, the study found, people at the festival spent $26.6 million on accommodations.

On Main Street, there is also interest in early deals but it is unclear how many properties are already rented for the 2008 festival. The street, especially during the rollicking opening weekend of the festival, becomes a marketplace for big corporations, with national firms renting temporary space.

At Rich Haines Galleries, an art gallery on Main Street, Lindsey Larsen, the director, says she is seeking a "reliable, long-term" renter. This year, BlackBerry and a few smaller corporations rented the gallery space during the first four days of the festival and the gallery reopened for the rest of Sundance. The BlackBerry deal followed another that was negotiated but was later scrapped with America Online, she says.

She expects that the gallery will strike a deal for Sundance 2008 by the beginning of the fall.

"I don’t think we’ll have trouble. Our gallery space has a unique layout," she says.

She says Sundance rentals are smart for business because people in the city for the festival are typically not shopping for art.

"Most people aren’t going to buy art during Sundance," she says. "Most people are here to get free gifts, watch movies and party."

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