'Super High' heads to a living room near you


UPDATED 5:06 p.m. PT March 10

AUSTIN -- Audiences eager to light up the joint with a viewing of the upcoming marijuana-themed documentary "Super High Me" will be able to do so in the privacy of their own living rooms.

Screen Media Films, which will distribute the film theatrically, made the announcement during a Studio SX interview panel at South by Southwest here.

Fans can register at the film's Web site to "roll" their own screenings by requesting a free DVD copy of the film, which will be sent out on the film's theatrical start date of April 20. Once in receipt of the disc, the requester is expected to hold a private screening in a location of their choosing. The only requirement is that they not charge for the screening.

"It can be difficult to get stoners off the couch," said Suzanne Blech, senior vp sales and acquisitions at Screen Media Films. "The number of people who get stoned in America is quite a large percentage, and all we want for them is to tell their friends that they have to see this funny, funny movie."

Blech said that the idea came about after she spoke with marketers at B-Side Entertainment, who had done a similar promotion with 2006's "Before the Music Dies."

"When they told me that they'd had 300 screenings in 270 markets with an average of 120 people at each, all done at a very low cost, I was intrigued about getting word-of-mouth screenings to such a large amount of people," she said.

Technical details on the mailer still were being worked on at press time, but Blech said the DVDs likely will have a 24-hour shelf life and be encoded to prevent duplication. But requesters who hold screenings after the film's June 17 release for Netflix rental will have the option of selling regular DVDs of the film at their screenings.

An estimated $5.99 shipping cost will be paid by the requester.

The film, directed by Michael Blieden, features comedian Doug Benson first abstaining from smoking pot for 30 days, then smoking it all day for the next 30, with medical tests set up along the way. The film riffs on Morgan Spurlock's 2004 docu "Super Size Me"; Spurlock gave the concept a thumbs-up without having seen the film.

The SXSW festival has been growing in importance in recent years, with some studio executives likening it to another Sundance -- with a more laid-back, easygoing atmosphere reflective of its location. Until IFC Films purchased "Nights and Weekends" on Sunday, no films had been purchased out of SXSW (though several, including 2002's "Spellbound" and 2007's "Hannah Takes the Stairs" were bought shortly afterward). The acquisition makes the festival is a viable competitor in the festival/market field.

The festival began Friday and runs through Saturday.