Revamped Sundance sales gave almost equal chance for tickets
After the debacle of 2005, local film lovers should be encouraged by the way the Sundance Film Festival’s revamped ticketing system worked last weekend, giving almost everybody an equal chance at scoring the sought-after tickets.
This year, Sundance organizers instituted a new system that randomly assigned people a time, through a drawing of wristbands, to try to buy tickets. It replaced the first-come, first-served way that ticket sales were handled for years.
Early Friday evening, fans lined up at the Gateway Center in Old Town to find out what time they were to return on Saturday or Sunday. They then showed up over the weekend to buy their tickets, with lots of Parkites apparently pleased with the selection of tickets — including those for tough-to-get premier films — that remained even on Sunday afternoon.
The new system eliminated the traditional fan sleepover that, by 2005, drew hundreds of people who stayed most or all of the night before so they could get the best selection. This year, the diehards who used to spend the night had no reason to show up hours before the rest of us, probably to the chagrin of some of them, who saw the sleepover as a mark of dedication.
In 2005, Sundance experienced a meltdown the Saturday tickets went on sale, leaving people who stood in line all night with a measly list of available movies. Sundance blamed what turned into a public-relations disaster on a new computer system and pledged to improve for 2006.
This year, with the new ticketing procedure, Sundance saved hundreds of people a night on the Gateway Center floor and left almost everyone happy. In that respect, it succeeded.
The 2006 system, though improved from before, was not perfect. Most significantly, Sundance limited the number of wristbands to 800 people. That meant that some people who lined up for the wristbands on Friday night were turned away, leaving them without a chance to purchase tickets the first weekend, when only Utahns are allowed to buy.
In previous years, even people at the back of the line on Saturday morning were given times to return for tickets. There chances once they got to the box office were slim but there was always the possibility that there were tickets available to the more obscure Sundance movies.
Next year, we hope that the number of wristbands is expanded to ensure that anyone who wants a chance to buy tickets gets one.
Otherwise, we prefer this year’s system over the traditional one, including the comfort of our own beds the night before versus the floor of the Gateway.
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