The Park Record is reporting that Sundance wants to delay renewing its contract with Park City. In a letter from Sundance Institute to the Mayor, they said delaying the renewal will “enable Sundance to complete our strategic planning work and can come to the table with a new vision for the Festival and the Institute as a whole. It is at this point that we can partner with Park City and arrive at a new long-standing Master Festival License with the City that is beneficial for both parties.”
This comes months after the site Deadline reported, “Sources tell us that Sundance is looking for another city to host future editions of the indie film festival and market.” At the time, speculation was that Sundance was negotiating through the press for a better deal with Park City.
Now, I am not so sure. Could Sundance move the main festival elsewhere but keep a few showings in Park City and Salt Lake? Probably. Could Sundance keep the Labs in Utah but rotate the festival through various locations nationwide? That makes sense. Would Sundance drop Park City altogether? Unlikely.
However, if any of these events happen, then the spectacle is gone.
That could be a good thing. People who care about seeing the movies in Park City still get to see them. However, property solely used to rent out during the first week of Sundance would go back on the market. Could that positively impact Main Street? Could Main Street become interesting again?
Likewise, second homeowners who count on selling out for Sundance and paying their annual mortgage may have to make other choices. Different choices could mean more affordable long-term rentals would be available to help our affordable housing problems.
Whether we wanted to acknowledge it or not, once Sundance showed Robert Redford the door, the writing was on the wall. For all those who want to maintain the Sundance Quo, perhaps you’ll get a reprieve. Maybe Park City will make Sundance an offer they can’t refuse. Everything will stay the same.
But if not, will we really be worse off? The Egyptian will likely still show Sundance’s best movies, at least for a while, even if the Festival is in Miami in 2027. Main Street would have more merchants and our local businesses could afford to be there. There would be more affordable housing options as some second homeowners sell.
Yes, it will be unfortunate for some speculators and investors, but that’s the nature of the business.
Would Sundance “leaving” Park City be a bad thing? I’m not so sure at this point.