COLUMBIA — The True/False Film Fest outdid itself again.
Since its debut in 2004, total ticket sales have grown 753 percent, hitting a new record with 37,548 tickets sold this year. That's a 23 percent increase compared to 2011 sales.
Here's the breakdown of True/False Film Fest ticket sales by day beginning Thursday and ending March 4:
Day 1: 2,434 tickets sold
Day 2: 7,488
Day 3: 16,242
Day 4: 11,384
The total represents the number of individual tickets sold, not the total number of people who attended. Co-director Paul Sturtz estimated 13,000 to 14,000 people visited Columbia to participate in events surrounding the ninth documentary film fest, which began Thursday and ended Sunday.
Sturtz said he expected to sell 35,000 tickets, an ambitious goal organizers did not anticipate they would top.
Various reasons account for the jump in sales, Sturtz said.
"I think it's just raising awareness about True/False being an event you can't miss and we've built a lot of goodwill over the years with putting on a good show," he said.
Sturtz also attributed this year's success to the festival's two new venues, MU's Jesse Auditorium and The Picturehouse inside the Missouri United Methodist Church.
"Picturehouse was a really great spot for us," he said. "(It's) right across from the Missouri Theatre, right in the heart of the True/False campus, and that allowed us to have a lot of people being able to walk from venue to venue."
He said he hopes to attract more people to the festival in the future and expects an increase in ticket sales again next year. He estimated potential sales to be upward of 39,000 to 40,000 tickets in 2013.
"I don't think we can experience a 23 percent increase every year," Sturtz said. "It's just really difficult because we were running a lot of venues at capacity, and you generally can't get up to 95 to 100 percent capacity across the festival."
To continue improving ticket sales, Sturtz said the same marketing methods will be employed. Advertising strategies such as television and radio commercials or highway billboards are unnecessary.
"We just think over time there's going to be organic rise in the level of interest in (True/False)," he said. "We like that we're a word-of-mouth festival. People come here, they're very impressed, and they want to tell their friends. It's the best kind of marketing."
The total revenue for this year's sales have not been calculated.
The largest percentage increase in ticket sales was in 2006, when it grew 61 percent over the previous year.