With most Americans cutting back on staples right now, not to mention luxuries, you'd think a business plan that relies on people shelling out $35 to watch a movie would be doomed to failure. That's the plan of Gold Class Cinemas, which is rolling out its first concept theater in South Barrington, IL and charging $35 for a luxurious night of escapism that includes the show, valet parking, a blanket and slippers in the price of admission -- the gourmet dinner that is available is a separate charge.
Most blogs are mocking this idea, thinking that this is just the wrong economic climate to start a business like this, and especially gloomy about the prospect that Gold Glass will be able to open 50 such deluxe locations eventually. But now might just be the right time to do something like this. The $35 entitles the ticketholder to an exclusive and relaxing escape -- there are only 40 seats in the theater and there are likely to be few children invited. While the popping of a cork of Dom Perignon champagne might be distracting, the duck tacos and blue cheese potato chips might be worth the extra price, considering mere popcorn costs a small fortune these days.
Black watermelon | Description: 17-pound premium black Densuke watermelon | From: Japan Cost: Most Densuke watermelons retail for $188 to $283, but this one fetched a record $6,100 at auction.
Tomoko A. Hosaka, AP
Burger | Description: Kobe beef, black truffles, foie gras, Gruyere cheese, topped with gold flakes and served with fries | From: The Wall Street Burger Shoppe in New York Cost: $175 *Prices on this and the following items may have changed and some dishes may have been discontinued since first reported.
Brendan McDermid, Reuters
Champagne: Perrier-Jouet 2000 Belle Epoque, 750 mL | Description: Limited edition of 100 12-bottle sets, custom-flavored with the buyer's choice of liqueur | From: Pernod Ricard Cost: $79,000; roughly $6,300 per bottle
Francois Guillot, Getty Images
Sandwich: The McDonald | Description: Wagyu beef, foie gras, truffle mayonnaise, brie, rocket, red pepper and mustard confit, and plum tomatoes on sourdough | From: Selfridges department store in London Cost: $150
Scott Barbour, Getty Images
Cocktail: Martini on the Rock | Description: Martini with a diamond | From: Algonquin Hotel in New York Cost: $10,000
Cinema flourished during the Great Depression, thriving on extravagant productions that gave viewers time away from reality. It may flourish again during what most of us think is a recession. At first, only the wealthy may seem likely to flock to the Gold Class cinemas, but they may end up choosing this kind of luxury over more expensive options -- like theater or concert tickets. If even the rich start to take staycations, they'll be looking to upgrade their matinee experiences. Clearly, with only 40 seats in the audience, the target market is narrow and rich.
For the rest of us, you consider doing it at home. Blankets, pillows, slippers, a new release are easy to come by -- and you can even have the bleu cheese potato chips too.