State of Alabama to Gamble Pensions on Your Willingness to Pay $35 For a Movie

Mere days after MPAA mascot Dan Glickman and pals around town swore up one side and down the other that movies are a relatively inexpensive, recession-proof industry, a group of brass-balled fate tempters — including "the Retirement Systems of Alabama pension fund" (we can't make this up) — are betting that even $35 tickets wont scare off potential patrons of their planned luxury chain.

Each complex will sport theaters featuring 40 reclining armchair seats with footrests, digital projection and the capability to screen 2-D and 3-D movies, as well as a lounge and bar serving cocktails and appetizers, a concierge service and valet parking. ...
"It's a new way to go to the movies," said Graham Burke, managing director and CEO of Village Roadshow Ltd. "It's like what Mercedes is to a Toyota or like flying first class in an airplane."

Or, more accurately, think of it as the difference between simply handing over $11 to an anonymous box office attendant and dicing crisp $100 bills into a smoke-ready pulp for maximum, low-light narcotic glee. That said, we don't know where to call "bullshit" first: The investors say they plan to sink $200 million into 50 venues over the next five years, as though an average of $4 million per facility is the going rate for upscale eight-plexes on exurban real estate outside Chicago and Seattle. We're surprised as well to hear that deep-pocketed Alabama pension-funders are getting in early on the surging, ever-stable exhibition marketplace. As Mercedes devotees ourselves, we can only hope retirees have the opportunity to upgrade their downmarket pick-up trucks once the cash starts rolling in.