Virtual Sundance Film Festival 2021 rakes in more than 600,000 views |

Virtual Sundance Film Festival 2021 rakes in more than 600,000 views

Numbers reflect a 168% audience increase from last year’s in-person event

Sundance Film Festival participants from around the country participate in an online welcoming event on Jan. 28. This year’s virtual festival drew more than 600,000 views from film lovers around the country.
Park Record file photo

The weeklong 2021 virtual Sundance Film Festival reeled in more than 600,000 audience views, which is 2.7 times larger than last year’s 11-day in-person celebration of independent film.

The Sundance Institute, the nonprofit that oversees the festival, announced the numbers in a release early this week.

The release states that the institute counted 251,331 views of feature films, short films and independent series through this year’s online platform and TV apps, and with an estimated average of two people per household for each “view,” that amounts to more than 500,000 views of the film program.

In addition, the release stated that the slate of this year’s free panel discussions and events pulled in a total audience of approximately 66,000, while New Frontier racked up 39,869 visits, which is a significant increase from the average 2,000 visitors per in-person festival.

This year’s festival program consisted of 73 features, which was down from the average 120 in years past; online seat limits for feature films were set by individual rights-holders, and the film and series programs were geo-blocked to the United States, the release reported.

The festival’s roster also showcased 50 short films, 23 talks and events, and the New Frontier exhibition that included 14 projects.

“We talked about this year’s festival as a grand experiment, and now we are in the process of analysing the results — a vital part of informing the expression of the festival in 2022,” Tabitha Jackson, who made her festival director debut this year, said in the release. “There is a lot still to learn, but we are delighted that a combination of online and in-person participation, innovative social spaces, hard work, and a lot of crossed fingers came together to expand and connect audiences for the incredible slate of work we were lucky enough to program this year.”

Audiences also had access to more than 70% of the feature film program at 20 partner cinemas and organizations across the country, the release said.

Early data revealed attendance of 20,000 at the drive-ins and socially distanced indoor or outdoor in-person screenings.

Additional analysis of this year’s festival found that 48% of the participants were between the ages of 18-34, and 64% of the viewers selected to watch films in their three-hour premiere window, which included live interactive elements like chats and Q-and-As, according to the release.

In addition, 85% of the total products sold were $15 single tickets with the rest passes.

The festival also met its goal of providing discounts to at least 20% of anticipated festival-goers in order to increase access for historically marginalized communities and younger audiences, according to the report.

“It’s been rewarding to see the way adventurous audiences everywhere engaged with our program and platform, and of course we are delighted to have met and even exceeded our goal of expanding the reach and community for independent film in this challenging year,” said Sundance Institute CEO Keri Putnam. “I am so inspired by the incredible Sundance team who rose to the challenge of presenting the Festival in a new way, and grateful to our Board whose partnership and support was invaluable and — as always — to Robert Redford for being our guiding light.”

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