Sundance lifts the curtain on a new venue | ParkRecord.com

Sundance lifts the curtain on a new venue

Sundance Director of Technical Exhibition Production Holden Payne and Associate Director of Operations Tina Graham take a short break amid the construction hubbub at Sundance’s newest venue, The Ray. (Photo by Nan Chalat Noaker)

The vacant building shoehorned into the elbow of the Holiday Village shopping area in Park City used to be a popular spot to buy socks, soccer balls and snowboards. But when the old Sports Authority location reopens as "The Ray" during the Sundance Film Festival, locals will hardly recognize it. One of Park City's first ski shops has been converted into a state-of-the art theater.

The festival's newest venue will house a 500-seat cinema, a black box theater and an exhibition space for many of this year's New Frontier virtual and augmented reality exhibitions.

"I am so profoundly proud of this venue," said Sundance's Technical Director Holden Payne. "It will really show off the filmmakers' work in the way it is meant to be shown."

SUNDANCE FILM FESTIVAL SCREENING VENUES

Eccles Theatre
1750 Kearns Blvd., Park City • 1,270 seats
Holiday Village Theatre
1776 Park Ave., Park City • 1,270 seats
Egyptian Theatre
328 Main St., Park City • 318 seats
Library Center Theatre
1225 Park Ave., Park City • 486 seats
The MARC Theatre
1200 Little Kate Road, Park City • 550 seats
Park Avenue Theatre
1800 Park Ave., Park City • 295 seats
Prospector Square Theatre
2175 Sidewinder Dr., Park City • 324 seats
The Ray Theatre
1780 Park Ave., Park City • 496 seats
Redstone Cinema 1
6030 Market St., Park City • 188 seats
Redstone Cinema 2
6030 Market St., Park City • 175 seats
Temple Theatre
3700 N. Brookside Ct., Park City • 318 seats
New Frontier at The Ray
1780 Park Ave., Park City • capacity 35
The Box at The Ray
1780 Park Ave., Park City • 40 seats
Sundance Mountain Resort
8841 Alpine Loop Road, Provo • 164 seats
Broadway Cinema 3
111 E. Broadway, Salt Lake City • 243 seats
Broadway Cinema 6
111 E. Broadway, Salt Lake City • 245 seats
The Grand Theatre
1575 S. State Street, Salt Lake City • 1,100 seats
Rose Wagner Center
138 W. Broadway, Salt Lake City • 495 seats
Salt Lake City Library
210 E. 400 S., Salt Lake City • 300 seats
Tower Theatre
876 E. 900 S., Salt Lake City • 340 seats

Here’s an interactive map of the theatre locations. 

With more than 50 surround speakers Payne adds, "It's basically 3D sound." In addition to the Dolby Atmos technology, brand new high back seats and  "the biggest screen we could fit in there," Payne unabashedly claims, "there won't be a bad seat in the house."

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The stadium seating flows upward from where the store's old cash registers were located, to the mezzanine where snow boots and sneakers could often be found on sale. The projection booth sits high above the back row and the walls on all sides are studded with impressive banks of high tech speakers. In December, the sounds of construction workers still hard at work were swallowed up by the sound-absorbing insulation that Payne says will heighten the whole experience.

"It's a very dead room so we can control the sound in a very compelling and amazing way," he said.

The theater has a 4K digital projector but is also equipped with 35mm equipment enabling Sundance to screen rare archival films without damaging the prints.

"I think it is going to be one of the best rooms to see a film anywhere," he said.

The old ski sharpening and waxing area has been reserved for many of the festival's New Frontier offerings including digital and augmented reality exhibitions and panel discussions. Visitors will be ushered in the middle door and down the stairs to the Black Box, a spacious lounge and individual artist spaces.

"It is bigger than the Claimjumper, where New Frontier was previously housed, but it is still very intimate," said Sundance Operations Director Tina Graham, who spent much of the holiday season overseeing final touches on The Ray. "We are making a permanent space for the program to land."

Sundance has leased the location for five years with two options to renew, but there are no immediate plans to keep the venue open beyond the festival. "We will take a step back and evaluate it and see what the city will allow us to do," she said.

In the meantime, festival-goers should make a special effort to attend at least one screening at the new venue and take a swing through New Frontier while they are there.