Sundance eliminates 3 Park City-area screening rooms, including second largest
Music Cafe, Festival Co-Op and sponsor village also dropped from blueprints for 2022 event
Sundance Film Festival organizers on Thursday said they have eliminated three screening rooms in the Park City area for the 2022 event, including the second-largest local theater, as they continue to make adjustments to the plans to hold a live festival a year after all in-person events were canceled out of concern for the spread of the novel coronavirus.
The organizers dropped the MARC Theatre, the Park Avenue Theatre and the Temple Theatre from the festival grid. The MARC Theatre usually operates in the gymnasium at the Park City Municipal Athletic & Recreation Center, the Park Avenue Theatre is normally located at DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Park City – The Yarrow and the Temple Theatre is typically housed at Temple Har Shalom.
The loss of the 550-seat MARC Theatre will be especially notable. The Eccles Theatre, with 1,270 seats, is the only Park City-area screening room larger than the one at the Park City Municipal Athletic & Recreation Center. The Temple Theatre, meanwhile, normally seats 318 while the Park Avenue Theatre usually holds 295.
The seating capacities are based on pre-pandemic festivals, and the number of people allowed at any individual screening in 2022 will be based on whatever public-health restrictions are in place at the time.
The rest of the Park City-area screening rooms will operate throughout the festival, which is scheduled Jan. 20-30. They are:
• the Eccles Theatre
• the Egyptian Theatre
• Holiday Village Cinemas
• the Library Center Theatre
• Prospector Square Theatre
• the Ray Theatre
• Redstone Cinemas
Sundance also said it will set up the Filmmaker Lodge in its traditional location in the Elks Building on Main Street. A new venue called The Craft will be located at 950 Iron Horse Drive, the former location of the festival’s New Frontier Central. The Filmmaker Lodge and The Craft are slated to run from Jan. 21 until Jan. 25. Admission will be free and anyone attending the festival may enter them.
The festival headquarters will be located at the Sheraton Park City in Prospector while the main box office will return to the Gateway Center just off Main Street.
The organizers, though, have eliminated other non-theater venues like the Music Cafe, the Festival Co-Op and a sponsor village that has operated on Swede Alley in the past.
Sundance said in a statement the festival in 2022 “features a tighter venue plan with fewer theaters as a measure to protect the health safety of the community.”
The organizers also indicated the Filmmaker Lodge and The Craft will be the location of conversations, music performances and panel discussions.
“We’re excited about being back,” Betsy Wallace, the managing director of Sundance, said in an interview, adding, “It’s been a long 18 months.”
It had seemed almost certain for months that Sundance in 2022 would not return to a pre-pandemic form, with tens of thousands of people traditionally arriving in Park City for screenings, business dealings, parties and celebrity gawking. The details provided on Thursday are more evidence that the community should not expect a typical Sundance scene.
Sundance shortly is anticipated to appear before Mayor Andy Beerman and the Park City Council to seek an approval for the plans for 2022. The elected officials will likely want to learn about public-health measures in addition to the typical discussions about logistical matters. There could be information sought about the decision regarding the MARC Theatre since the building is under the ownership of City Hall.
The festival organizers last summer said they will require people attending screenings or other festival events in Utah to be vaccinated against the coronavirus. Masks will be required at indoor festival venues. They also said last summer Sundance in 2022 would employ an online platform, as it did this year. Sundance intends to schedule selections from the festival at satellite screens across the U.S. A maximum of seven satellite screens will show films over the closing weekend of the festival.
Wallace said she expects a full slate of festival sponsors to return to Main Street with temporary setups and said the Sundance excitement will be evident in Park City. She said Sundance has not crafted an estimate for the crowd size but organizers are not anticipating the numbers will reach those of the 2020 event, which was held shortly before coronavirus-forced shutdowns.
Correction: An earlier version of this article cited an incorrect number of satellite screens.
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Park City Council members have directed staffers to continue working on a plan to develop affordable housing on a site 1 ½ miles south of City Hall on Marsac Avenue. Staffers are recommending the city release a request for proposals (RFP) to find interested entities to participate in a public-private partnership to build the project.