Sundance '17 Sets Records for Attendance, Economic Impact

By Raymond, Art | Deseret News (Salt Lake City), June 15, 2017 | Go to article overview

Sundance '17 Sets Records for Attendance, Economic Impact


Raymond, Art, Deseret News (Salt Lake City)


By Art Raymond

Deseret News

SALT LAKE CITY - Even though streaming services like Amazon and Netflix appear to be supplanting movie studios as the stars of writing big checks for the hottest movies at Utah's annual Sundance Film Festival, the in-person theater audiences for this year's edition - and their impact on the state's coffers - are easily the largest on record.

A just released report by Y2 Analytics pegs Sundance's 2017 attendance at more than 71,000 for the two-week event, with those movie fans generating $151.5 million in total economic benefit to the state.

"It is apparent that the Sundance Film Festival continues to have an expanding impact on Utah's vibrant and diverse economy," Gov. Gary Herbert said. "In addition to the obvious economic benefits, our ongoing collaboration with Sundance Institute highlights the exceptional cultural, recreational, tourism and business opportunities available here in Utah."

While this year's festival performance numbers outstrip last year's attendance of 46,660 and economic impacts of $143 million, Y2 Analytics founding partner Quin Monson said an updated approach to gathering data likely helped capture information that may have been missed in previous analyses.

"Where things really differed (from previous reports) is we were able to estimate the total attendance with more precision," Monson said. "And we were able to capture additional spending data from attendees that combined helped to create an overall economic assessment."

Monson and his team brought in some locally developed high-tech tools that he said helped dial in the game of guessing crowd sizes at the numerous Sundance events.

Salt Lake City's Blyncsy has developed a system for wireless capture of unique identifiers associated with anything that can connect to a wireless network (smartphones, laptops, tablets, fitness devices, etc.) allowing an end user to view that data in real time.

Blyncsy sensors were set up in various venues associated with Sundance activities that enabled Y2 to capture and count the number of people at any particular event, essentially tracking them by their mobile devices.

"The festival organizers know how many tickets go out, but they don't know how many people actually show up to screenings," Monson said. "This tool helped us get better attendance numbers by anonymously keeping track of unique cellphone radio signals."

Y2 also made an effort to collect information from Sundance passholders and VIPs whose economic activities had been mostly missed in previous assessment efforts. This group represents about 10 percent of the audience and tend to be higher spenders than the ticketed attendees, Monson said. …

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