Park City could be dubbed Hollywood hills by Sundance 2015
When Hollywood returns to Park City for the Sundance Film Festival’s 2015 edition, a future festival entry could be under production not far from the hubbub of Sundance.
By the time Sundance 2015 has started in January, a developer hopes to have built and opened the first buildings in a movie-studio complex planned along Park City’s S.R. 248 entryway. It would be a milestone in the long-running efforts to locate a studio complex in the Park City area, and it is not clear whether the developer, a firm called Quinn’s Junction Partnership, will have made that much progress by the time Sundance opens next year.
Greg Ericksen, whose family trust owns Quinn’s Junction Partnership, said in an interview during Sundance he anticipates the first soundstages could be operating by the fall of this year. The developer last fall held a ceremonial groundbreaking at the site with state political, business and film-industry leaders, and Ericksen said this week construction is expected to start when the ground thaws.
The facility will be called the Park City Film Studios. It will be located on a little more than 29 acres at the southwest corner of Quinn’s Junction, where U.S. 40 and S.R. 248 meet. The City Hall approval allows 374,000 square feet of development. The largest building at the site will be a little more than 90,000 square feet in size and primarily house lodging space, a recording studio and a spa. The second largest of the buildings — 73,000 square feet — would primarily consist of soundstages. There are also plans for a building to be used for entertainment purposes, a building for an effects stage, a studio store and studio tours.
The developer earlier reached an agreement with Raleigh Studios, a Hollywood company that bills itself as the nation’s largest independent studio operator. Raleigh Studios is expected to anchor the studio in Park City. Quinn’s Junction Partnership has said Raleigh Studios signed a 20-year lease with a renewal option after the first 20 years.
Quinn’s Junction Partnership last year inked a deal with a state-run Chinese firm known as National Film Capital of China that will bring an international presence to the Park City Film Studios.
The supporters of the studio see it as a facility that will be important as Park City further diversifies its tourism-heavy economy, citing the prospects of job creation, among other benefits. They also say that Park City Film Studios will be a nice addition to Utah’s film industry. There is also a chance, it seems, of some sort of partnership involving Park City Film Studios and the organizers of Sundance.
The chief opposition to the project came from some Park City officials. The Park City Planning Commission advanced the project to the Park City Council with a negative recommendation as a majority of the lower panel outlined a range of development-related concerns. The City Council itself approved the project on a split vote that illustrated the continuing concerns about the development.
The Park City Film Studios during Sundance set up an informational location in a small space along lower Main Street, inside a festival rental organized by the Utah Film Commission. The developers showcased renderings illustrating the architecture of the buildings planned at the complex and played videos describing the eventual capabilities of the Park City Film Studios.
Ericksen said the setup at Sundance was "more informational" in nature and was not meant to be critical to the studio’s marketing efforts. He was not sure how much business could be generated in the Main Street space during the festival.
"Sundance is the opportunity for the state of Utah . . . to educate people of what’s available in Utah," he said.
Park City Film Studios this month, meanwhile, started to install a technology known as digital motion capture and virtual stage, according to a prepared statement released by the studio just before the start of Sundance. It is described as "a key part of the studios’ planned technology platform."
"The platform provides our clients with a comprehensive virtual filmmaking capability," Ericksen said in the prepared statement.
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It was an important decision since the rest of the talks will be heavily influenced by the processing option selected by the Planning Commission on Wednesday.