Sundance Film Festival addresses lack of ticket refunds for 2022 event

PARK CITY, Utah (ABC4) – Just two short weeks before opening day, the Sundance Film Festival – the world’s premier independent film festival, which has historically called Park City its home – has announced a move to virtual in the midst of Omicron’s rise to power. Audiences who had hoped to congregate again in the mountains of Utah to enjoy an engaging, boundary-pushing film were disappointed that COVID thwarted their plans for the second year in a row.

Ticket holders were equally upset when they learned their passes were not eligible for a refund.

Many have contacted the festival to discuss the matter and have received a series of options for this year’s event, instead of a full refund. Ticket holders also had the Tuesday, January 18 deadline to submit any changes to their ticket packages.

Those who purchased a full-price hybrid or in-person ticket package — which includes the Festival Package, Salt Lake City Package, Prize Package, and Industry Package — had the option of adding additional movie screening tickets to previously purchased packages or apply a partial credit towards the purchase of a Festival 2023 package.

Credit amounts and the number of additional tickets for screenings differed by package. For those who purchased the Festival or Industry package, an option was offered between receiving a $200 credit toward the purchase of a 2023 ticket of equal or greater value or 10 additional screening tickets for that year’s event. Those who held the Salt Lake City or Awards packages were offered a $100 credit or 5 additional free screening tickets.

Additionally, buyers had the choice of giving the ticket package to a family member or friend or converting the purchase into a tax-deductible donation or Sundance Institute membership.

Full ticket prices for each package were: $750 for the Festival Package, $400 for the Salt Lake City Package and $300 for the Rewards Package. Industry package prices were not listed on the Sundance website.

In a letter to ticket holders, the Sundance Institute also pointed out that tickets were noted as non-refundable at the time of sale and were sold as hybrid packages, which were to be used for online or in-person viewing, of interchangeably.

The Sundance Institute sent the following statement on the reasons for its decision:

“For the Sundance Institute, the shift from hybrid to virtual comes at great loss, emotionally, experientially, and with tremendous financial impact. We are heavily dependent on the Film Festival to continue our mission-driven work and the financial implications of this change will inevitably impact the support we provide to artists throughout the year. This is the last thing we want to do as a non-profit institute, and is one of the reasons our hybrid products have been set up as non-refundable. We must be able to continue to champion the essential storytellers of this generation. We hope that everyone who has planned to attend in person will bring their love of film and independent artists to our online platform, and we have provided options for those who wish to change their plans including – either additional tickets for films this year or partial credit for the cost of ticket packages for the 2023 Festival.”

Darcy J. Skinner