Big parties from the Hollywood uber-agencies are always top stops on the opening weekend of the Sundance Film Festival, but not this year. Neither CAA nor UTA will be hosting a late-night shindig, I’ve learned, nor will ICM Partners. Having ditched its big party a few years back, WME is sticking with its comfy and casual lounge first introduced in 2014.
“The past couple of years have seen a backlash against Sundance getting too corporate and less indie,” one insider told me. “Hosting a big party just doesn’t benefit us with our clients or work there right now.” Citing tightening regulations in Park City, another in-the-knower added, “It’s also gotten much harder to do a big fun gathering like in the past.”
CAA’s decision to skip a Sundance party this year is a far cry from those barely dressed burlesque dancers and strap-ons of their explicit hootenanny that shocked some in 2013. This year isn’t the first CAA has decided not to hold a big event here. Instead, with big teams and films for sale, Sundance 2016 will see low-key intimate dinners from them, UTA and ICM, I’m told. Having been in the same location for two years, the WME | IMG Lounge is back on Park Avenue this year with agents, clients, buyers and more dropping by for a bite, a drink and a recharge throughout the fest.
Although it won’t be hosting a party, UTA is having its second annual Delta Festival Shuttle tomorrow morning, with a Delta Airlines flight from L.A. to Salt Lake City full of filmmakers, agents and other invitees. A pre-flight reception is scheduled at LAX earlier Thursday.
Meanwhile, APA is flying the agency party flag on Main Street with a gathering January 24. In a case of giving the people what they want, Gersh is hosting an invite-only AFC Championship Game viewing party that afternoon.