The 2017 Sundance Film Festival set records for its economic footprint and attendance, dwarfing totals from previous years’ events, according to a study released Wednesday by the Sundance Institute.
Notably, the report states that the festival — one of the most prominent events of its kind in the world — generated $151.5 million in state gross domestic product. That’s an almost $80 million increase over the GDP a similar study attributed to last year’s festival. And this year’s attendance of 71,600 — 37,200 of whom were from out of state — is significantly larger than the 46,000 who were said to attend in 2016.
But the gains may not be quite what they seem, however. The Sundance Institute, which puts on the annual event, commissioned a new firm, Y2 Analytics, to compile the study for this year’s festival. Betsy Wallace, managing director and chief financial officer of the Park City nonprofit, said the disparities can be largely attributed to Y2 Analytics’ methodology.
The firm used a more holistic process to generate data that paints a fuller picture of the festival’s attendance and economic impact than previous studies, Wallace said. For instance, Y2 Analytics combined in-person surveys of attendees with online assessments to gather economic information from a broader cross section of festival-goers and sponsors. It also used new technology to get a more accurate headcount of people attending events like film screenings and panel discussions.
The spikes in GDP and attendance were so large that Y2 Analytics spent about 45 days double checking its work but ultimately came up with the same figures,…
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