PARK CITY, Utah (ABC4) – Just two short weeks before opening day, Sundance Film Festival – the world’s flagship independent film festival, which has historically made its home in Park City – announced a switch to virtual amid the Omicron surge. Audiences who had hoped to gather once again in the Utah mountains to enjoy engaging and boundary-pushing film were disappointed that COVID had thwarted their plans for the second year in a row.

Ticketholders were equally distraught, though, when they learned that their passes were not eligible for a refund.

Many reached out to the festival to discuss this matter and were provided with a series of options for this year’s event, in lieu of a full refund. Ticketholders were also given a deadline of Tuesday, January 18 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, Awards Package, and Industry Package – had the option to either add additional film screening tickets to previously purchased packages or apply a partial credit towards the purchase of a 2023 Festival package.

Credit amounts and numbers of additional tickets for screenings differed by package. For those who purchased the Festival or Industry Package, an option was given between receiving a $200 credit towards the purchase of a 2023 ticket of equal or greater value or 10 additional screening tickets for this year’s event. Those holding the Salt Lake City or Awards Packages were offered a $100 credit or 5 additional complimentary screening tickets.

Additionally, purchasers were given a choice to give the ticket package to a family member or friend or convert the purchase into a tax-deductible donation or Sundance Institute membership.

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

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

The Sundance Institute sent the following statement on the rationale behind their decision:

“For the Sundance Institute, the shift from hybrid to virtual comes at a great loss, emotionally, experientially and with a huge financial impact. We rely heavily on the Film Festival to continue our mission-centered work and the financial implications of this shift will inevitably impact the support we provide to artists year-round. This is the last thing we want to do as a nonprofit Institute, and is one of the reasons why our hybrid products were set up as non-refundable. We need to be able to continue to champion the essential storytellers of this generation. We hope that all who planned to attend in-person will bring their love of independent film and artists to our online platform, and we’ve provided options for those who wish to change their plans including — either additional tickets to films this year or partial credit towards the cost of ticket packages for the 2023 Festival.”