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Insider Ticketing Tips and FAQs for the Sundance Film Festival

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Sundance Institute

As we prepare for yet another Sundance Film Festival, we thought we’d take some time to update you on everything you need to know about our ticketing system. Thank you for your continued interest in seeing world-class
independent films, panels, music, and New Frontier installations at the
2021 Festival. We look forward to seeing you in January!

Through small (but important!) modifications to our system and extensive testing, we’re confident you’ll have a seamless experience this year. Modifications include a better moderated rate of admissions to the purchase pages that will allow the queue to move more steadily, a simple all-on-one-page purchase site, clear error messages, and real-time updates on availability so your purchase is confirmed when you add something to your cart.

Be aware, however, that as in previous years, certain items like the First Half Package, the Locals SLC/Ogden Pass, and the Locals 10-Ticket Package are expected to sell quickly.


Q: What’s new this year in ticketing?

Lots of things! We started last year with eliminating registration for Individual Tickets and we’re now eliminating registration for Festival Pass and Ticket Package sales. The sale will remain open until all passes/packages sell out.

In addition, we’re also renaming some of the Festival Passes and Packages so you’ll clearly understand any date or geographic restrictions.

Here’s the decoder list:

First Half = (A) Thurs, Jan 21 – Tues, Jan 26

Second Half = (B) Wed, Jan 27 – Sun, Jan 31

Express Second Half Pass = Express Pass B

Eccles Theatre Second Half Pass = Eccles Pass B

Off Peak Hours Pass = Adrenaline Pass

Locals 10-Ticket Package = Film Lover’s Package

We’re also offering the SLC Grand Theatre Pass and the SLC/Ogden 10-Ticket package this year. There are a growing number of Festivalgoers who’ve discovered that seeing screenings in Salt Lake City (where every Festival film plays) is an easy film experience, with ample parking, affordable hotel accommodations, and less crowded restaurants.

2. Are you worried about resellers or bots?

We want our tickets to go directly into the hands of our film-loving human audience. Our full team of customer service agents will continue to be proactive in our work to identify resellers. Our software recognizes bots and duplicate email addresses, and we’ll still manually review all purchases, organizing lists by names, addresses, etc. and cancelling orders that are gaming the system.

3. What’s the most common inquiry you receive regarding ticket sales?

After “how much are tickets?” (all tickets, including waitlist tickets, are $20 each), the question is often “Do I have to be in the film industry to attend?” No! Only about 20% of our attendees are press or industry folks; the other people are film fans or aspiring filmmakers. We pride ourselves on being accessible to the public.

4. What’s the best tip you have for Festivalgoers who are purchasing Individual Tickets?

Be flexible. Choose films that might not come to your local art house. And the screening you think might be an “obscure” film could be an undiscovered film gem. Some of our best known films have empty seats at their Festival screenings. Ogden is also a magical theatre. One of those majestic “Egyptian style” grand halls of the Roaring Twenties that rarely sells out. The newest theatre, The Grand Theatre at the Salt Lake Community College also lives up to its name.

A Locals online sale will begin January 14 (must have a Utah driver’s license or Utah state ID to pick up tickets). There will be a Sundance Institute Members online ticket sale on January 18 (join now!). All remaining tickets will be on sale both online and at the Main Box Offices on Tuesday, January 19 at 10:00 a.m.

5. Which Festival category sells most quickly?

Premieres, then Dramatic Competition films, sell quickest. But the best attended categories last year were Doc Premieres and Panels.

6. What’s the biggest misconception about ticketing at the Sundance Film Festival?

That we are sold out. Beyond the first screenings of films in Park City on the first weekend, we only sell out about 30% of our 700+ public screenings. Most previously off sale films have new tickets released on the day of show and it’s very rare that no Waitlisters are admitted.

7. What’s the best ticketing option for attendees who are most interested in panels, music, and other Off Screen events?

If you haven’t already bought a ticket package or a pass (which automatically come with a credential), then purchase a credential for $200 to gain priority access to non-theatre events. Only two or three panels that occur in theatres are ticketed like films (with the bigger panels now occurring in the second half); other panels are free to credential holders at the Filmmaker Lodge and the Microcinema.

8. Is it worth it to try my hand at Waitlist Tickets?

Absolutely. Over 15-percent of our audience is admitted by buying Waitlist tickets and that number has grown significantly over the past 2 years due to the efficiency of the eWaitlist system. The theatre teams will inform Waitlisters of the average number of people admitted to that venue or if it looks hopeless, which rarely happens. Just remember – cash only! It’s the speediest way to get filmgoers into the theatre.

FAQs

When will the relaunched sale begin?
The sale opens on Thursday, October 29 at noon MT.

Where will updated information be posted?
The most reliable place for sale information is sundance.org/tickets.

When the new sale begins, where will the link to the purchase site be located?
Links will be posted on the front page of sundance.org and on the Get Tickets page at sundance.org/tickets. In addition, every page on the Sundance Institute website will have a direct link at the top of the page.

Will you be using a queue system again?
Yes, we are using a queue system for this sale to accommodate users purchasing tickets at the same time.

Is the new sale first-come, first-served?
All customers on the landing page prior to noon MT will be randomized and placed in the queue. The landing page automatically redirects to the queue page once sales begin. All subsequent customers will join the end of the line on a first-come, first-served basis.

Can I have more than one queue open on my computer? Will that result in an error?
You definitely run the risk of getting a “rejected queue number” error page once it is your turn to purchase if you have multiple queues open. You should have only one queue window open in order to reduce the risk of errors.

Will there be a countdown page again where I can wait? Will that page refresh automatically?
We will have a landing page that will refresh automatically at noon MT so all customers on the landing page are randomly placed into the queue.

Will you still have passes and packages reserved strictly for locals?
Yes, we have reserved specially discounted passes and packages that only Utah locals will be able to purchase. Our customer service agents will be auditing all sales to ensure these products are sold exclusively to locals.

Is the sale mobile-friendly?
The site is mobile friendly, but we never recommend users conduct high value sales on a phone or tablet. When you do use a computer, please make sure your browser software is up-to-date. You can check here.

Why don’t you have the sale on a weekend?
This is an option we seriously considered. We’re mindful that everyone’s time is extremely valuable. However, we’ve come to the conclusion that we need all possible resources available to support the new sale, and a weekday was chosen to accomplish that. We’ve set the sale at midday in hopes that most customers can be available closer to a traditional lunch/afternoon break time.

Will you honor my last place in line/shopping cart items from the October 14 sale? I sent a screenshot of my shopping cart/queue number.
We have made extensive efforts to fairly and completely track users that were in the queue or attempting to make purchases and found the information is impossible to recover. The only record available to us is the small number of users whose purchases were completed, and we are honoring those sales. During the relaunched sale, items placed in the cart will be locked while you complete your purchase.

How much inventory is left?
The October 14 purchases account for a very small portion of what was available.

Can you add more inventory?
The amount that we offer of each ticket package and pass was carefully calculated based on the probable number screenings and seats available. With passes, if we add more, there’s a risk of too many pass holders appearing at a screening and ticketholders being turned away. That’s a scenario we work hard to avoid during the festival.

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