Do you enjoy going to the movies but think they're just too darn affordable?
The state of Alabama hopes so. The Retirement Systems of Alabama pension fund has partnered with a couple of entertainment companies to build a series of luxury cinemas -- with tickets that cost $35:
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.
But the circuit will especially push its culinary offerings -- made-to-order meals like sushi and other theater-friendly foods from on-site chefs (a service button at each seat calls a waiter). Moviegoers will have to pay extra for any food they order, however.
The partners are spending $200 million to build 50 of these theaters over the next 5 years. The first two, in the burbs outside Chicago and Seattle, will open later this year.
Sounds like a risky venture to me. For starters, people seem to be generally frustrated with the current cost of a movie ticket, which is less than a third of what these luxe movie houses would charge.
But the Alabama pension fund is no stranger to risks. CEO David Bronner has invested the fund in everything from post-bankrupt airlines to luxury golf resorts to TV stations. And it seems to be paying off. In Governing's round-up of state pension woes, Alabama actually had one of the better-funded pension systems in the country.
So what do I know? Maybe states should be getting into more of these kinds of offbeat investments. I mean, it ain't like the stock market's all that reliable these days....