PARK CITY, UTAH — Everything at Sundance, it seems, has been cranked up a notch this year.
Film acquisition prices again are approaching the double-digit millions and the social scene has pushed Park City’s Main Street to a state of perma-gridlock.
There are bigger names in attendance, too: top studio chieftains at Par and Universal to Vulcan’s Paul Allen, who was in town for Sunday’s preem of “Hard Candy,” and Amazon CEO Jeff Bezos, who co-hosted UTA’s bashon Saturday.
At the same time, the number of people in town with no relation to the fest continues to grow. “The Apprentice” winner Bill Rancic was trolling the “Hustle & Flow” party on Saturday, and the swag-happy Hilton sisters have been as omnipresent.
Official fest sponsor Volkswagen set up shop on Main Street and was forced to black out the gallery windows to curb the mob scene outside.
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Down the street, at the Village at the Lift complex, metal barricades shield freebie-hunting VIPs from the throngs of lookie-loos. Village guests have ranged from U’s Scott Stuber to Sidney Poitier and “Napoleon Dynamite” star Jon Heder, a Utah local who was one of the biggest crowd-pleasers at the swag hub.
One of the few events to draw a legitimately indie film crowd was Sunday’s Cinetic Media party, where fest vets such as John Pierson and Jonathan Dana squeezed into Zoom restaurant to catch up with Cinetic’s John Sloss, fest chief Geoff Gilmore and most of the specialty distribution players in town.