Would you pay $35 dollars to see a movie? Wait! Let me finish before you say no. Because you’re not paying $35 dollars to be packed in a dirty movie theater filled with hundreds of other unruly, disinterested patrons in broken seats, ruled by unruly teenagers who pelt everyone over the age of 20 with uncooked popcorn pellets and shout racial epithets during all the good parts. Instead, what you’ll get with a $35 ticket at Village Roadshow Gold Class Cinemas when they open in they open in Chicago this year, is the ultimate, movie going experience.

$35 gets you:

Plush, recliner, reserved seating in a 40-seat theater.
Special parking privileges.
Upscale food and beverages served by waiters.
State of the art projection and surround sound.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. It’s movies the way they ought to be seen, without all the idiotic distractions that have been keeping people away from regularly priced cinemas. Some of this is of course, already available at other theaters. For instance the legendary Alamo Drafthouse in Austin already serves upscale food, as do several copycat chains here in Dallas like the Movie Tavern and the Studio Movie Grill in Dallas. To me, the thing that really makes it worth this price is the notion of a 40-seat theater filled with plush recliners. No crowds, no unruly teenagers, just me, a soda, an incredibly comfy chair, big freakin picture and big freakin sound… the way god intended it.

Is that worth 35 bucks? You bet. I’m probably not paying it to watch the next Eddie Murphy movie, but for a big event movie like The Hobbit or Watchmen I’d happily shell out that kind of cash for an amazing, unparalleled night at the theater. It’s all part of Village Road Show’s attempt to turn movies back into a destination, instead of 7-Eleven’s with projectors in them. Unfortunately, while these Village Road Show Gold Class Screens are apparently pretty common in Australia, they’re just starting to expand into the United States. It will begin with theaters being in Chicago, and should expand more over the next 5 years.

While I can’t wait until someone gets around to building one of these in my town, it’s disappointing to think that a decent moviegoing experience is now something that can only be achieved by the incredibly wealthy. Movies used to bring people together, not divide them up into a have and have not class system. Alright, maybe cinemas can’t provide Lay-Z-Boy recliners and Pasta for an $8 ticket, but I think most of us would be pretty happy if more of them would simply hire an usher or two to walk around and monitor the audience. Even if it’s overpriced, at least someone has the wherewithal to bring class back to the term Movie Palace.

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