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For Second Straight Year, Sundance Festival Forced to Go Virtual

A  marquee at the Egyptian Theater in Park City Utah, with Sundance Film Festival spelled out.
For the second straight year, the Sundance Film Festival will be virtual.
(Joey Maloney
Flickr )
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Just two weeks before it was supposed to open, the Sundance Film Festival is canceling its Utah gathering.

Organizers for the nation’s biggest showcase of independent film had hoped mandatory booster shots and proof of a negative COVID-19 test would allow Sundance to proceed from Jan. 20-30.

But the surge in new coronavirus cases, including in areas around the festival’s home in Park City Utah, forced Sundance to admit that in-person attendance “would be irresponsible in this climate.”

In a statement, the festival said:

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"While it is a deep loss to not have the in-person experience in Utah, we do not believe it is safe nor feasible to gather thousands of artists, audiences, employees, volunteers, and partners from around the world, for an eleven-day festival while overwhelmed communities are already struggling to provide essential services."

It’s not just public screenings that would carry a risk; Sundance is also famous for crowded parties, standing room only concerts and jam-packed restaurants.

Like last year, Sundance will now be entirely virtual. But even with the 2021 festival unfolding on laptops, the drama “Coda” set an all-time sales record, with Apple buying it for $25 million.

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John Horn covers the business of entertainment, examining what's next for Hollywood post pandemic.