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Sony Saves the Multiplex?

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Exhibitors finally caught a break.

After four consecutive weekends of seeing ticket sales lag last year's already horrific showing, patrons came back to the movies in a major way.

Sony's (NYSE: SNE  ) Hotel Transylvania -- the family-friendly animated feature about a resort hotel for monsters -- took in $43 million in ticket sales over the weekend. How good it that? Well, this is actually the biggest theatrical opening for any movie during the month of September.

The industry will still need to improve if it wants to top last year's overall measly performance. One movie isn't enough to offset the problematic trend that finds moviegoers tiring of going out to the local multiplex.

Investors may not see it that way. Analysts see exhibitors Regal Cinemas (NYSE: RGC  ) and Cinemark (NYSE: CNK  ) actually growing revenue and earnings this year, but that may naturally change if the final three months of the year fail to pan out. The prognosis is even rosier for IMAX (NYSE: IMAX  ) .

Wall Street sees the company growing its revenue and earnings by 21% and 88%, respectively, this year. However, IMAX's superior growth story has relied largely on international expansion and domestic multiplex operators converting more of their traditional screens to IMAX's premium platform.

As things stand, one weekend isn't going to make exhibitors forget a year that started strong but came largely undone during the latter half of the summer season.

Sony may have scored a hit -- and a surprising smash at that, seeing as more than half of the critics on Rotten Tomatoes panned the flick -- but that won't matter much for exhibitors if they can't get customers to come back for more.

Feature attraction
I've been a believer in IMAX for years. It's been a market beater both times that I have recommended IMAX as an investment to Rule Breakers newsletter subscribers. As part of the CAPScall initiative for accountability, I've also had a bullish IMAX call on Motley Fool CAPS for some time.

Premium cinema revolutionized the theater business, but there's an even bigger industry revolution taking place outside of the local multiplex. It's time to learn about the three big winners in this new trend before your neighbors figure it out. It's a free report, but like a hot theatrical release, it won't be showing forever -- so check it out now.

Rick Aristotle Munarriz has no positions in the stocks mentioned above. The Motley Fool owns shares of IMAX and is short Sony and has the following options: long JAN 2013 $22.00 calls on Sony. Motley Fool newsletter services recommend IMAX. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools may not all hold the same opinions, but we all believe that considering a diverse range of insights makes us better investors. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.

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