Movie studios and IMAX (NYSE:IMAX) itself are starting to understand what value the large screen theater can add to the industry. The latest example is Disney's (NYSE:DIS) Iron Man 3, which opened last weekend with $7.1 million in box office at IMAX theaters out of $198.4 million overall. Since this was just an international opening, this leaves a lot of upside this weekend.

The blockbuster is key
Iron Man 3 generated $63,000 in box office per theater this weekend, which compares with $56,000 per theater for The Avengers last year. This weekend when the film opens in the U.S. we will probably see another record box office for IMAX.

The biggest difference for IMAX over the past year is its ability to exploit films like this as opposed to throwing as many films as possible onto its screens. Last year there were 30 films released on IMAX screens, and some, like The Avengers, were pulled after very successful runs for films that weren't as successful. This year the company has a smaller list of films but a list that will play well in IMAX.

The company is also signing more films to drive future revenue. It recently announced a deal with Paramount Pictures, a division of Viacom (NASDAQ:VIA), to show five films, including Christopher Nolan's Interstellar and the next Transformers film. Nolan filmed a large portion of The Dark Knight Rises with IMAX cameras, so his films have a history of success in IMAX.

Driving future growth
IMAX's first-quarter results weren't particularly inspiring, but that's because they didn't contain any big hit movies. The success of Iron Man 3 will drive the second quarter, and The Hunger Games, Star Trek, and The Hobbit are still on the slate for 2013. With 738 IMAX screens worldwide, 283 in backlog, and an increasing understanding of how to exploit IMAX from studios has created a great opportunity for investors.


Fool contributor Travis Hoium has no position in any stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool recommends and owns shares of IMAX and Walt Disney. Try any of our Foolish newsletter services free for 30 days. We Fools don't 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.