COVID-19 surge forces Sundance Film Festival to cancel drive-in screenings

The Rose Bowl is being used as a drive-in movie theater during the pandemic.
The Sundance Film Festival canceled plans to hold in-person drive-in screenings in the Los Angeles area amid escalating numbers of COVID-19 cases.
(Ricardo DeAratanha / Los Angeles Times)

Amid rapidly escalating numbers of COVID-19 cases in the Los Angeles area, the Sundance Film Festival has canceled plans to hold in-person drive-in screening events as part of the 2021 festival.

The events were to have taken place at the Rose Bowl in Pasadena and the Mission Tiki Drive-In in Montclair. The 2021 Sundance Film Festival is scheduled to run from Jan. 28 to Feb. 3. This year’s event was already drastically altered from previous years because of the pandemic, with a smaller program, emphasis on online events and shortened rundates.

A statement from festival organizers said, “When we designed the expression of the 2021 festival, it was with the online platform at the core. We wanted to gather in person where possible and planned to dial elements up and down based on the health situation in our locations at the time of the event.”

The festival also is scheduled to host events at satellite venues in other U.S. cities. Organizers said those plans are being closely monitored based on case-by-case health and safety evaluations at each location and might also be moved to online-only events as needed.

Festival organizers were in the process of informing filmmakers of the cancelation of the drive-in events when the news was first reported by Variety.