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Sundance's impact on Utah slips first time in 3 years

Published June 26, 2013 10:43 pm

Film festival • Fewer people spent less money, data from study show.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2013, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

The Sundance Film Festival's economic impact on Utah this year fell sharply as those who attended the 11-day event apparently cut back on their spending.

The impact, a number representing how much the world-famous festival added to Utah's gross state product, was $69.5 million, down 13 percent from $80.3 million, according to a study released Wednesday by the Sundance Institute in Park City. In 2011, the estimated impact of Sundance was $70.9 million.

"It was definitely more restrained," said David Poland, editor of Movie City News, an online film news site.

"The overall film industry has suffered a reduction over the last four years, and the indie business is feeling it even more heavily now. There are a lot more new film distributors and a lot less being spent by the traditional distributors to announce their presence at the festival," Poland said.

Institute executives declined to suggest an explanation.

"The study doesn't go into that, and we don't want to speculate," said Sarah Pearce, an institute managing director. "There are bound to be fluctuations, but we are encouraged that attendance remained strong and is consistent."

The study, prepared by the University of Utah's Bureau of Economic and Business Research, shows that 45,947 people went to the festival this year. The attendance count was 1.7 percent lower than in 2012, when 46,731 showed up. Attendance in 2013 was little changed from 2011.

Two of every three festival-goers came from outside Utah, including almost 4,000 people from other countries. They were largely responsible for $24.2 million spent on lodging, $16 million for food and beverages, and $3.1 million for auto rentals. Other retail purchases totaled $7.6 million.

Not included in the latest economic impact figure was an estimate of the value of widespread media coverage of the festival. Print, online and broadcast coverage was worth $56.8 million in publicity value.

pbeebe@sltrib.com

Twitter: @sltribpaul —

2013 versus 2012

Economic impact • $69.5 million, compared with $80.3 million (-13 percent)

Attendance • 45,947, compared with 46,731 (-1.7 percent)