Sundance fans psyched with tickets | ParkRecord.com

Sundance fans psyched with tickets

by Jay Hamburger OF THE RECORD STAFF

There was no one in line behind Cindy Ingraham Sunday evening at the Sundance Film Festival box office at the Gateway Center in Old Town.

In front of her waited a few of the festival’s ticket sellers, observing her as she decided what tickets she wanted.

Ingraham, who lives in Park City seasonally, was the last person to buy tickets at the Park City box office during Sundance’s annual locals-only ticket sale and, even after about 1,200 people bought tickets at the Gateway, she found some movies that were not sold out.

"I adjusted to the availability," Ingraham said, grasping 18 tickets to nine movies as she left the box office.

She bought tickets to a variety of movies and says lots of the tickets are for screenings later in the festival.

The Saturday and Sunday locals-only sales appear to have been successful, without the widespread discontent that has marked the sales in the past.

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Sundance on Monday had not yet compiled figures from the Park City sales but the screening grids on display at the box office showed that lots of the films were sold out of the locals-only tickets by the end of the sales on Sunday.

Through the weekend, people buying tickets seemed generally happy with the tickets they got. Sundance offers the locals-only sales as a perk to people who might otherwise have a difficult time getting tickets if they were competing with the rest of the nation.

Gio Melendez, from Kamas, received a 10 a.m. Saturday time slot to purchase tickets, one of the earliest of the weekend. Melendez is pleased with the availability.

"We got everything except for one and we got our second choice," Melendez says after buying four tickets each to five movies, mostly toward the end of the festival because Melendez will be busy catering up to 80 events during Sundance.

Lauren Hamley, whose husband drew a 10:30 a.m. time slot on Saturday, left the box office with tickets to six movies, 20 tickets combined. She is pleased but says five of her first-choice movies were sold out. Hamley says Sundance is getting more popular and, before, the early time would have been rewarded with better tickets.

"If we could have had this time slot two years ago, we would have gotten everything we wanted," Hamley says.

The 2007 sales are the first under a new ticketing system Sundance adopted that uses a computer to randomly select times for people to purchase tickets. The film festival organizers have tinkered with the locals-only procedure in the past few years in an effort, they say, to make it more fair.

It used to be that people would line up the day before the sales started and spend the night outside the box office. Some prefer that method as a way to reward the biggest fans but others say the current system is best because everyone has the same chance to get an early purchase time.

Before the weekend’s sales, Sundance reported 1,230 people in Summit County received time slots on Saturday or Sunday. Officials say demand for the slots, though, outstripped Sundance’s ability to sell tickets and about 200 people were barred from buying over the weekend.

There have not been widespread complaints from people denied time slots.

The festival, seen as America’s premier marketplace of independent films, is scheduled Jan. 18-28. It opens with two showings of "Chicago 10" at the Eccles Center.

People who registered by Jan. 4 can purchase tickets during nationwide sales starting in mid-January. On Jan. 15, remaining tickets go on sale at the box office. Sundance puts some tickets on sale each morning of the festival and says 10 percent of the people in wait-list lines outside the screenings typically get into the movies.

Nancy Rosecrans, who lives in Park Meadows and received a 9:30 a.m. Saturday buying time, one of the earliest, says she got two tickets to 10 movies, one premier and lots of dramatic films. She says the sales were orderly and "no one knocked me down," but says there was a moment of added drama while she was buying.

"My heart stopped because the printer didn’t work," she says.