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Sundance Film Festival scraps in-person plans

The annual event, which was to be held in Park City, Utah, from Jan. 20-30, will take place virtually due to the omicron variant.
The marquee of the Egyptian Theatre promotes the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah on Jan. 28, 2020.
The marquee of the Egyptian Theatre promotes the Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah on Jan. 28, 2020.Arthur Mola / Invision/AP file

The organizers of the Sundance Film Festival announced Wednesday that this year’s in-person events have been canceled as the omicron variant of the coronavirus spreads across the U.S.

"We have been looking forward to our first fully hybrid Sundance Film Festival and our teams have spent a year planning a festival like no other," the Sundance Institute said in a statement.

"But despite the most ambitious protocols, the omicron variant with its unexpectedly high transmissibility rates is pushing the limits of health safety, travel and other infrastructures across the country. And so, today we’re announcing: the Festival’s in-person Utah elements will be moving online this year."

The event was scheduled to take place Jan. 20-30, in Park City, Utah. The festival will still begin on the 20th as planned, organizers said, adding that the 11 days of online programming will also proceed, "with screening schedule adjustments to account for an online only schedule."

"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," the Sundance Institute said.

This year's slate includes a handful of high-profile films, including documentaries about Bill Cosby, Princess Diana, Lucille Ball and Kanye West. Jesse Eisenberg and Tig Notaro will also make their directorial debuts, with "When You Finish Saving the World" and "Am I Okay?"

The news comes as other major events scheduled in January announce their delays due to omicron.

The Recording Academy and CBS announced Wednesday they would postpone the 64th Grammy Awards, which was scheduled for Jan. 31. The new date will be announced soon, they said.

The first wave of cancelations were announced in December, as the dramatic rise in the number of omicron cases nationwide continues to force dozens of institutions to change their plans.