Seth Rogen says he will screen his new film Monday night in a Denver movie theater filled with marijuana smoke and hundreds of his fans.
But will the movie theater hotbox actually happen?
While Rogen has said he thinks it should happen, the city of Denver’s executive director of marijuana policy thinks the screening should obey Colorado law — sans the marijuana smoke.
The Cannabist first broke the news on Nov. 25 that the outspoken comic actor was coming to weed-friendly Colorado on Dec. 8 for an advance promotional screening of his new film “The Interview,” due in theaters on Christmas Day. What has happened since then regarding the screening has resembled the kind of nonsensical, “say-what” plotline befitting of a stoner comedy.
First Rogen started tweeting about getting high inside the Colorado theater with his fans. Then the host venue, the Sie FilmCenter on East Colfax Avenue, contacted Sony to tell them the audience couldn’t light up inside their space as it would be against Colorado law. Then Sony told the FilmCenter “the event was no longer happening.” The Cannabist reported that, and Rogen responded via Twitter that a Colorado screening would still happen — only at a different theater.
“The old venue was acting lame so we got a new one,” Rogen tweeted our way.
So where will Rogen land tonight?
While Oriental Theater owner Scott LaBarbera had no comment when contacted by The Cannabist on Dec. 8, the venue’s online calendar says “tonight’s event is private and closed to the general public” and two promoters who regularly book the north Denver room at 4335 W. 44th Ave. for pot-friendly comedy shows confirmed that Rogen’s screening is scheduled to happen there on Monday night.
“It’s at the Oriental,” Kayvan Khalatbari, owner of Denver pot shop Denver Relief and comedy production group Sexpot Comedy, told The Cannabist. “We don’t know if there will be any sort of consumption or anything.”
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Khalatbari’s Sexpot Comedy will celebrate its one-year anniversary with a show at the Oriental on Dec. 19 with headliner Todd Barry and other comics, and like all other Sexpot shows, it will be a marijuana-friendly event.
“We don’t advertise the shows,” said Sexpot co-founder Andy Juett, who agreed with Khalatbari that Rogen’s screening will be at the Oriental on Dec. 8. “We don’t throw (the cannabis-friendly nature of our shows) in the police’s face or try to make a giant political statement, but we do share it with friends, family and those who ask about them being cannabis-friendly shows.”
It’s worth noting that Rogen and his team have already flipped the script on this screening a number of times. If problems arise at the Oriental, maybe they’ll have a Plan B. Another possible venue pot industry professionals are linking to Rogen’s screening is the hip Alamo Drafthouse in Littleton, but two reps from the theater complex south of Denver told The Cannabist they cannot confirm private events.
Three messages about Rogen and the screening to Allied Integrated Marketing, the event’s primary Denver-rooted organizer, all went unreturned in the last week. To boot, Rogen asked his Twitter followers weeks ago to sign up for the screening via email, but as of Monday afternoon — less than five hours before the screening was originally scheduled to begin — we’d not heard from anyone who had been emailed back.
So was it possible that Rogen spoke too soon when he first tweeted, “We are going to do a screening of #TheInterviewMovie in Colorado where I get baked with everyone first, and we can smoke weed in the theater”? Was it possible that Rogen was unaware of Colorado’s strict laws against the consumption of marijuana in public?
While Rogen’s no Amendment 64 expert, he knows how it goes in Colorado. In a late-2012 appearance on “The Late Show” with David Letterman, not long after Colorado voted for recreational weed and more than a year before the state’s legal sales started, Rogen educated Letterman about Colorado pot laws — and how private residences are the safest bet for a smoke sesh.
Letterman: “Would you smoke the entire joint while you were (at the pot shop)?”
Rogen: “They don’t let you smoke it there, you gotta take it home.”
Letterman: “So you go out to the parking lot …”
Rogen: “No, they don’t like that either. They kinda want you to …”
Letterman: “Well where do you go smoke the damn thing?”
Rogen: “At your home.”
Ashley Kilroy is the city of Denver’s executive director of marijuana policy, and she said her department and the Denver Police uphold the city’s law to the letter of pot-legalizing Amendment 64.
“There is no provision in Amendment 64 for the on-premise consumption of marijuana,” Kilroy said. “That could have been put in Amendment 64, but it wasn’t, so the voters did not vote for it.”
Kilroy said the Denver Police Department and the city’s Department of Excise and Licenses have historically contacted businesses advertising pot-friendly parties ahead of time to talk about potential violations of Amendment 64.
“We’ve educated people on what the law is,” said Kilroy, “and we’ve gotten compliance, generally.”
When asked if they were aware of Rogen’s event, and without even mentioning the Oriental as a possible location, Kilroy’s office told The Cannabist that Denver Police would reach out to the Oriental’s owners sometime Monday.
Early Monday evening, the following sign was seen posted outside the theater: “Personal consumption of marijuana is legal in the state of Colorado, however it is NOT legal to consume in public places — please respect the Oriental Theater and comply with the law. Thank you!”
— Mark Meredith (@markpmeredith) December 8, 2014
Rogen’s desire to pair a joint with his popcorn in a Colorado movie theater shines a spotlight on an issue that has plagued Denver party planners for more than a year. With legal pot but strict laws on where consumers can ingest it, where’s marijuana’s equivalent to a bar or festival serving alcohol?
“There should be a cannabis event permit like there are alcohol permits,” said Amy Dannemiller, who is better known in the marijuana industry as Jane West, the founder of networking organization Women Grow and pot event-planning company Edible Events Co and an occasional contributor to The Cannabist.
“I feel like no one in 2014 has had this kind of platform in 2014, even with all the international attention we’ve seen,” Dannemiller said. “(Rogen) is standing on top of an epic platform, and people could be talking about this. ‘Why can’t you get high in public?’ ‘You can’t just smoke pot?’
“He could have really pushed the conversation forward. But he didn’t.”
Khalatbari said it’s an issue that needs to be addressed.
“We can’t tell millions of people they can come here and use cannabis but they have nowhere to consume it legally,” Khalatbari said. “If we’re going to fully embrace cannabis tourism we need to figure out public consumption.”
Khalatbari did agree with his business partner Juett that less is often more when it comes to telling the world about your pot-friendly events.
“These venues are not new to cannabis use inside of them, but it’s more about how it’s handled,” Khalatbari said. “When you’re simply having a show and something happens — just like it has at concerts for decades — there’s not such a fuss. It’s a known thing amongst the people who go there. When you’re advertising it all day, it’s going to raise that attention.”
But Dannemiller said she wants to throw above-ground events that are known for being fun and cannabis-friendly, and while she hoped to find a well-known ally in Rogen, she doesn’t think she did.
“Seth has made millions of dollars on his movies promoting cannabis consumption, and now he has a national platform to address the public/private issues Colorado is facing, the political issues we face as the end of prohibition occurs,” Dannemiller continued. “I’m sure he’s very busy, and he may not understand the complexity of the situation in Colorado, but every advocate for cannabis, especially one with a following like Seth Rogen’s, has the possibility to address the cause.”