Giving its biggest critics -- its shareholders -- a sneak peek at next month's quarterly report, IMAX (NASDAQ:IMAX) announced that it was on track to meet or exceed its fourth-quarter guidance.

Shares of the big-screen cinematic enabler were trading 10% higher today, after IMAX expressed the possibility of topping earlier expectations of full-year 2005 earnings between $0.35 and $0.38 a share.

The company closed out the quarter with a record 14 new theater installations. Through 2005, IMAX received orders for 45 systems, a healthy improvement over the 36 orders it picked up a year earlier.

Why are entertainment centers, museums, and even multiplexes hitting up IMAX for its beefy signature sight and sound experiences? Dwindling box-office traffic over the past few years tells part of the story. Folks who are now spoiled by their home theaters need an upgraded reason to head out to a theater and overpay for nachos and popcorn.

Companies like IMAX and AccessIT (AMEX:AIX) are giving multiplex operators a fighting chance. AccessIT is doing so through digital installations that will ultimately save studios on printing and distribution costs, while giving operators a shot at providing a wider range of content. IMAX is doing so by contracting with movie chains like AMC in a revenue-sharing deal, helping to retrofit tired conventional theaters to screen bigger-than-life IMAX films.

IMAX has been teaming up with Time Warner (NYSE:TWX) to remaster many of the studio's biggest blockbusters, including Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, Polar Express, and Batman Begins. It has altered the value proposition of a night at the movies, even with tickets being sold at an IMAX premium.

Companies like IMAX and AccessIT may not come quickly to those rattling off promising growth stocks, but that's the point. The fact that they are percolating in an industry that many have left for dead may be the perfect reason to dig deeper. Are investors frustrated with the prospects for traditional theater operators like Regal (NYSE:RGC) or Carmike (NASDAQ:CKEC)? Don't give up. Help is on the way.

Perhaps that's why IMAX was recently recommended in the Motley Fool Rule Breakers growth-stock newsletter service, and why AccessIT has had some lively and insightful threads go up in the discussion board for Fool subscribers recently. If it's a sector worth saving -- and the movie houses most certainly are -- there are some neat investing ideas just waiting for companies looking to ride to the rescue.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz is a movie buff, but he does not own shares in any of the companies mentioned in this story. The Fool has a disclosure policy. Rick is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early.