The Dude abides: Woodridge theater hosts 'Lebowski' screening to celebrate legal pot
A Woodridge theater is throwing a party to celebrate the legalization of recreational-use cannabis with a movie that fits the bill -- "The Big Lebowski."
The $6 throwback showing at the Hollywood Blvd. theater of the 1998 film, described by organizers as a "kitschy cult favorite," features a "quintessential stoner" in title character Jeff "The Dude" Lebowski.
As tickets have gone on sale to customers 21 and older for the 7 p.m. showing on Tuesday, Jan. 28, the theater has been fielding plenty of questions, most of them asking if viewers can bring their newly legal pot. The answer: No.
"You can't have cannabis at the event," said Dana Pobanz, the theater's marketing director. "We can't have a cannabis license."
It's illegal under the state's Cannabis Regulation and Tax Act to use marijuana in public, unless in a licensed and designated lounge.
"A lot of people don't know that," said Nicole Yalaz, Illinois field marketing manager for Green Thumb Industries, which is sponsoring the film.
So GTI, which grows cannabis, produces its own brands of dry flower, pre-rolls, edibles and vapes, and runs the Rise chain of dispensaries, is doing the next best thing, Yalaz said -- celebrating cannabis culture with food and freebies.
Moviegoers can play cannabis trivia to win prizes including branded hoodies or hats, and the menu is designed with the munchies in mind. Think pizza burgers, buffalo chicken pizzas, loaded fries and creations called "super munchies" and "green munchkins."
"It's a lot of what you would think of as normal 'stoner food,'" Pobanz said.
Drink specials match "The Big Lebowski" and the cannabis theme, too, featuring white Russians and a cocktail with a slightly misleading name, "liquid marijuana," although it contains no cannabis.
The event came together after Yalaz reached out to Hollywood Blvd in hopes of putting on a sponsored feature to promote GTI's products. She wasn't expecting much, she said, but found the theater willing and enthusiastic.
"We like doing things for all different groups of people," Pobanz said. "We know there is a large group that has been waiting for legalization to happen. It works out nicely that we can cater to them."
Hollywood Blvd and GTI used social media polls to choose which film to show.
"This one won hands-down," Pobanz said about "The Big Lebowski," which features a middle-aged man who loves cannabis and bowling embarking on an adventure after he is mistaken for a millionaire of the same name. "It beat everything -- 'Harold & Kumar (Go to White Castle),' 'Fast Times at Ridgemont High.'"
Yalaz said "The Big Lebowski" will be a natural fit.
"We thought it would be good for people who may or may not be on cannabis watching it," Yalaz said. "It's just a fun, kitschy, cult favorite. 'The Dude' is the quintessential, he's such a stoner."
The theater doesn't have any safety concerns related to potential marijuana use beforehand, Pobanz said.
"Lots of people decide to do things like that before they go see a movie anyway. I don't think it's a new concept," Pobanz said. "It's just more of an open concept."
Yalaz said GTI plans to look into hosting more movie showings in the future, especially at independent theaters that are open to working with cannabis companies -- despite the substance's status as an illegal Schedule I drug at the federal level.
"It's always fun when you get a lot of stoners in a room together," she said. "Good things can happen, and a lot of laughs."
Organizers suggest buying tickets in advance, as the event is likely to sell out. For tickets, visit http://www.hollywoodblvdcinema.com/movies/coming-soon/big-lebowski-event/?back=movies.