Gay boycott appears to be bluster
January 10, 2009
Sundance Film Festival organizers said this week ticket sales are strong for screenings at Holiday Village Cinema, an indication that a boycott of the theater called for by some gay-rights activists might not have the support they envisioned.
The activists are unhappy that the chief of theater operator Cinemark, Alan Stock, donated money to supporters of Proposition 8, the California ballot measure against gay marriage. There have been calls for boycotts of Utah, Sundance and the festival screenings at Holiday Village.
Linda Pfafflin, who manages ticketing for Sundance, said people are buying tickets for Holiday Village screenings at a steady pace. Through Thursday morning, 74 screenings of the 123 scheduled at Holiday Village were sold out, according to Pfafflin. She said ticket sales at Holiday Village are ahead of the pace of past years and the boycott calls are "not being felt in sales."
Sundance uses the four screens at Holiday Village. Public screenings are shown on two. The other two set are aside for press and film-industry screenings. Sundance will primarily show documentaries at Holiday Village, a genre that draws big crowds during the festival.
Pfafflin said people purchasing tickets for movies at Holiday Village are not linking Sundance to the Proposition 8 controversy. She said screenings at Holiday Village typically sell out by show time. One of the theaters at Holiday Village used for public screenings seats 164 people. The other one used for the public holds 156 people. They are the two smallest public Sundance theaters in Park City.
"We’re not seeing anything," she said about Proposition 8-influenced boycotts. "We’ve never ever branded Holiday theaters as Cinemark."
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Still, Sundance schedulers were aware that some people might support a boycott of Holiday Village. Pfafflin said Sundance scheduled at least one screening elsewhere of nearly every film to be shown at Holiday Village, a bow to boycott calls. The theater at Temple Har Shalom will also screen many documentaries.
Ticket sales for pre-registered Utah residents occurred last weekend. National individual-ticket sales started this week. More tickets are put up for sale as the festival approaches, and additional blocks are made available during the festival.
"It’s a Sundance movie, not a Cinemark movie," Pfafflin said.
The boycott calls of both Cinemark and Sundance itself have been from disparate circles outside of Utah. Many of them cite concerns about the festival being held in Utah, the headquarters of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. The critics claim the Mormon Church was influential in the passage of Proposition 8.
A Web site, http://www.movesundance.com, mentions Holiday Village as it pressures festival organizers to relocate Sundance out of Utah. The Web site suggests Taos, N.M., as an alternative.
"Although Park City, Utah (Sundance’s "main city") supposedly has fewer Mormons, per capita, than other cities in the state, any money spent there still inevitable goes to fund hate. The host/headquarter theatre for the Sundance Film Festival is the Holiday Village Cinemas in Park City. A company called Cinemark owns Holiday Village Cinemas. The CEO of Cinemark GAVE $10,000 TO THE "YES ON 8" CAMPAIGN," the Web site says.
Nobody immediately responded to a Park Record e-mail sent to the Web site requesting an interview.
Sundance bills itself as a gay-friendly film festival, with numerous movies exploring gay subjects shown over the years and films from a number of gay filmmakers selected each year.
Pfafflin, who also handles customer complaints, said she received some correspondences about the Proposition 8 dispute. The critics, she said, are not regular Sundance attendees.
"It turned out not to be our customer base writing us," she said.