FILE - In this Sunday, Jan. 21, 2018 file photo, people walk past a festival box office during the 2018 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah. An economic impact study released Tuesday, July 17, 2018, estimates that attendance at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival increased dramatically over the previous year. (Photo by Danny Moloshok/Invision/AP, File)

Study finds dramatic increase in 2018 Sundance attendance

July 17, 2018 - 4:02 pm

SALT LAKE CITY (AP) — Attendance at the 2018 Sundance Film Festival increased dramatically over the previous year, according to an economic impact study released on Tuesday.

Nearly 125,000 people attended some part of the 11-day Utah event last year, a growth of more than 70 percent over the estimated 71,600 attendees in 2017, the study from Y2 Analytics estimated.

However, previous studies likely had failed to count people who only attended the festival briefly, the firm said. Roughly one-quarter of attendees — including 36 percent of Utah residents — attended the festival for just one day, the study said.

Still, the festival had "definitely seen some year-over-year growth in attendance," the report said.

The event generated an estimated economic impact of $191.6 million, spurred in large part by out-of-state visitors who spent millions on hotels, rental cars and meals, analysts said. The report estimated that each out-of-state attendee spent $688 per day.

The 2018 economic impact was roughly 26 percent higher than the $151.5 million estimated in 2017.

The growth in attendance this year was partially due to a new 500-seat theater in Park City as well as an expanded program section focusing on episodic work, organizers said.

Attendance was estimated by anonymously tracking people's cellphones as they moved throughout the festival, which had events in Park City, Salt Lake City and at the Sundance Resort northeast of Provo.

Of the attendants, slightly more than one-third came from outside Utah.

An estimated 72 percent of attendees had been to a previous year's festival and nearly 92 percent said they planned on returning in future years.

The festival was estimated to be responsible for more than 3,300 jobs statewide and contributed $19.2 million in state and local taxes, analysts said.

"Each year the full extent of the economic benefits of the arts has become more apparent, and we're very proud of the role Sundance Institute and our festival have played in demonstrating these benefits and bringing them to Utah," Sundance Institute executive Betsy Wallace said in a statement releasing the report.

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