Sundance tickets: going fast, but not gone
January 7, 2009
A gay prison romance starring Jim Carrey and Ewan McGregor, a cop drama with Don Cheadle and Richard Gere, a documentary about American rapper Dwayne Michael Carter, known by the stage name Lil Wayne, and a film directed by Steven Soderbergh were among the films getting early buzz Sunday evening at the Sundance Film Festival’s Gateway Box Office in Old Town.
The real winners, though, were more than 1,200 Summit County residents who scored an average of 14 tickets each to screenings. Turnout for locals only ticketing was just shy of the expected 1,500 patrons who registered for times.
World premieres and documentaries were strong sellers, but plenty of seats are still available for people who want to snag tickets when the box office opens Jan. 12 for national sales, according to Sundance ticketing director Linda Pflafflin.
They cost $15 each.
Tickets for premieres in Park City during the first week of the festival, which starts Jan. 15, have sold fast, but screenings and question-and-answer sessions in Salt Lake City and Ogden remain relatively open. Pflafflin estimated Sunday that 60,000 are still available. Early buyers from across the country will siphon off some of those tickets this week, but the numbers game still plays in locals’ favor since they have the flexibility to purchase tickets the day of a screening, not to mention staying power.
Each film screens four or five times during the fortnight, and second-week tickets are often easier to snag than big openings.
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"It’s been steady, about even with last year." Pflaffin said Sunday. "Park City locals have been really good to us."
Ellen Wells of Deer Valley purchased tickets both during her appointed time and during the open ticket sales hurrah Sunday evening. She walked away with 40 tickets.
Some of the films, such as the documentary "September Issue," about the making of Vogue magazine’s fall fashion bible, have garnered buzz. Other selections have not yet basked in water-cooler glory. "Part of the fun of Sundance is to go to obscure films," she said. "The documentaries inform you about topics you haven’t even thought about."
Although marquee names are the allure for some films, such as Chris Rock’s "Good Hair," it’s not uncommon for locals to show offbeat films more love. "A lot of these people are savvy enough to know that the big films will end up on Netflix," Pflaffin said, waving to the line of patrons with Sundance catalogs tucked under their arms. "There are some films they won’t get a second chance to see."
Volunteer Terri Zionts, who has attended Sundance for six years, summed up the feeling of her neighbors. "I like the energy of the festival," she said. "Even if I never saw a star, I’d still want to be a part of it."
For locals who still want an in, Sundance offers ticket distribution Wednesday, Jan. 21, for a free showing of "Amreeka," about a Palestinian family’s journey amidst the cultural fallout of America’s war in Iraq. The film will be preceded by the short "Sister Wife," directed and produced by Park City locals Jill Orschel and Alexandra Fuller. The film screens Thursday, Jan. 22, at the Park City Library at 8:30 p.m.
OPEN TICKET SALES
Jan. 12 Jan. 25
Open ticket sales don’t require registration, and patrons can either go online or show up at one of Sundance’s box office in Salt Lake City or Park City.
ONLINE TICKET SALES
Jan. 12 until Jan. 23
Tickets are available online up until 36 hours before show times. Order online and come to a box office location to pick up tickets two hours before the screening time.
Jan. 16 until Jan. 25
Didn’t get the tickets you wanted to a sold-out screening? Come in to the box office in Salt Lake City or Park City to get tickets to previously unavailable screenings. Each morning at 8 a.m., Sundance releases a limited number of tickets to that day’s screenings. Day-of-show tickets must be purchased in-person; they aren’t available online.
WAITLIST TICKET SALES
Jan. 15 Jan. 25
Arrive two hours before the scheduled screening time to pick up a waitlist number (one per person). For each theater’s first screening of the day, waitlist numbers will be distributed one hour before the scheduled screening time. Once patrons have numbers, they don’t have to stand in line, but must return no later than 30 minutes before the screening time. Then patrons line up according to number, and tickets are sold in sequential order. Waitlist tickets are $15. Only cash is accepted, so be sure to stop by the ATM before coming to theaters.