Sundance Weighs Interest From Atlanta, S.F., Santa Fe & More Over Potential 2027 Move; Park City & SLC Offer Joint Effort To Keep Festival

EXCLUSIVE: Like an applause filled debut at Park City’s Eccles Theatre, the Sundance Film Festival’s potential move in 2027 to a new location is attracting a lot of big bidders, as well as a significant swing from the hometown crowd.

San Francisco, Minneapolis, Santa Fe, and Atlanta, the home of Hollywood South, are among the jurisdictions that have notified SFF organizers they are raising their paddles for a chance to have the festival based in their town. Chicago has also allegedly made a move to bring Sundance to the already film festival rich Windy City, I hear. A couple of locations in Upstate New York as well as Savannah, GA are in play too.

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Last year, with Santa Fe champing at the bit, Deadline exclusively reported that Sundance was considering a move as its current over a decade old contract with Park City winds down. Bursting with infrastructure, production, tax incentives, hotels and screens, the capital of the increasingly purple Peach State could be the one to beat at this very early stage, insiders tell me.

Having said that, with Sundance still in Park City next year and in 2026, there’s a lot of road to go yet before any final decisions are made.

On Wednesday the deadline expired on the Robert Redford-founded gathering’s April 17 announced Request for Information submission period. A flurry of applications came in just under the wire, I’m told, which is pretty standard in situations like this. The next stage will see a Sundance Institute task force, including founder scion and board member Amy Redford, over the next few days carve up the RFI applicants into the serious players.

Once that core group of contenders is established and notified, Sundance will open up a Request for Proposal process that will from May 7-June 21. That comprehensive undertaking will see Sundance leaders drilling into the numbers and touring the prospective host candidates, with an emphasis on inclusivity and sustainability, before picking a winner later this year.

The new home of the Sundance Film Festival, which has been in Utah since the early 1980s, is likely to be unveiled at the end of the 2025 shindig next January.

Or not.

Despite the metropolis’ aiming to get their name in the hat and Slamdance’s recent revelation that they are moving to LA next year, Park City isn’t prepared to bid adieu to the festival that brought tens of thousands of visitors, over $118 million to the state’s economy, and the world’s media to Utah in 2023.

“The Sundance Film Festival should remain in Utah,” Park City Mayor Nann Worel told Deadline this morning.

““We have an experienced, innovative, and unified team in place to ensure this happens,” the first woman chief executive of the increasingly pricey and 7,000 feet above sea level resort town added. “Park City is not alone in this process. Our regional partnerships are strong, and we are committed to a renewed, forward-looking effort to re-imagine the festival together. In the end, we believe our 40 years of experience and strong partnerships will be key to our success and we thank the Sundance Institute for this opportunity.”

Honest about the growth issues that both the municipality and the festival have experienced in the past decade and the grumbling of some locals about the PiBs (People in Black) who trudge up and down Main Street every January, snowy Park City is looking at “an aggressive package” to put forth to Sundance to ensure the festival stays where it is, a local source says.

To that end, part of the re-imagining involves expanding Sundance’s footprint in the Beehive State, literally and figuratively.

With 40 years of demonstrated success hosting the Sundance Film Festival, we truly understand the festival’s unique needs and challenges,”  Utah Film Commission Director, Virginia Pearce said Thursday to Deadline. “We have coordinated a response to the RFI with Park City and Salt Lake City. Sundance is important to key partners all over the state, and we will continue to work together to collaborate on the RFP and reimagine the future of this festival in Utah. We are excited about the future and are committed to making the festival more accessible for artists, staff, volunteers, and audiences.”

Acknowledging the rocky path out of the pandemic that Sundance has had and the overall shifts to streaming and tentpoles in the industry and the festival itself, that Made in Utah collaboration could see a proposal to pivot towards SLC. “There’s a brand-new airport, financial flexibility, venues and a history in Salt Lake,” a insider states. “This would allow Sundance to both stay in Park City and grow in Salt Lake.”

As for Sundance themselves …it’s radio silence, for the time being.

While Sundance focuses on completing a fair and comprehensive review of all possible partners through the RFI and RFP processes, the Institute had no comment Thursday on potential bids or shortlists.

Starting labs in Chicago, Santa Fe and elsewhere over the next few months, Sundance will see its next full-on festival run from January 23 to February 2, 2025, in Park City and SLC.

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