As Utah’s bid to keep Sundance Film Festival moves ahead, other cities are promising millions

Other cities, including Atlanta and Boulder, are sweetening their proposals with financial incentives.

The Sundance Film Festival’s road to finding a home from 2027 onward has cleared another deadline — and Utah’s bid to remain the festival’s host state is still in play.

Other cities are also still in the running, and two of them have confirmed that they’re offering seven-figure financial incentives with their bids.

The state’s host committee submitted its bid — answering a request for proposals, or RFP — to the nonprofit Sundance Institute on Thursday, Virginia Pearce, director of the Utah Film Commission, said in a statement Monday evening.

“We deeply appreciate the opportunity to continue through this process,” Pearce said in the statement. “As the proud home of the Sundance Film Festival, our commitment to its success is deep-rooted. This process has inspired us to re-imagine the Festival, renew our passion for preserving its connection to its home, and envision a future that brings shared growth and sustainable success for years to come.”

Sundance set a Friday deadline to receive RFPs from bidders that they’d invited. Sundance has not announced how many bidders were allowed to continue, as the nonprofit arts group has said from the outset that it would keep its process private.

Bidders other than Utah have been more vocal about their proposals. Representatives of bids from Atlanta and Boulder, Colorado, announced that they submitted their RFPs last week.

Both cities sweetened their pitches with offers of financial support. Atlanta and its partners are pledging $2 million in support, while the coalition behind Boulder’s effort noted that the Colorado Economic Development commission has approved a $1.5 million incentive if Sundance would move there.

Pearce declined to comment on the contents of Utah’s RFP, including whether it includes any incentive money.

In recent weeks, other cities have dropped out of the running, including San Francisco and Traverse City, Michigan.

The Sundance Institute announced in April that it was considering its options for where to locate its signature event in 2027 and beyond. The nonprofit’s contract with Park City expires after the 2026 festival. Sundance said that it hoped to announce a decision near the end of the year or early in 2025.

Utah does have history on its side.

The first Utah/US Film Festival — the precursor to the modern Sundance Film Festival — launched in Salt Lake City in 1978, and moved to Park City in 1981. Later that same year, actor-filmmaker-activist Robert Redford founded the Sundance Institute as an incubator for independent filmmakers. The institute took over the festival’s operations in 1985, and officially changed the name in 1991.