Considering the chilly reception the market has handed IMAX (NASDAQ:IMAX) in recent months, it's only fitting that snow-dwelling penguins should come to its rescue. Time Warner's (NYSE:TWX) Happy Feet has become the first family-friendly hit of the holiday season, and Time Warner has IMAX to thank for helping it edge out the return of James Bond over the weekend.

Happy Feet sold $42.3 million in ticket sales, to top Casino Royale's box office take of $40.6 million over the three-day domestic weekend. However, the computer-animated penguin flick would have had to settle for the silver medal if it hadn't been for the $2.4 million rung up on 79 IMAX screens.

The giant-screen specialist chose well this time. IMAX singles out only a few theatrical releases a year to remaster for its larger format, and it's been burned in recent months by banking on Open Season and Ant Bully. Next year's slate offers more hope, with the latest Harry Potter and Spider-Man flicks set to get the IMAX treatment.

IMAX has been a colossal disappointment for investors this year. The battered Motley Fool Rule Breakers recommendation keeps tumbling with miscue after miscue. From a botched sale attempt to revenue recognition irregularities to the latest quarter, which featured no new installations despite a healthy backlog, IMAX has been tested. Its leveraged balance sheet is only making things more difficult.

Happy Feet isn't going to save the quarter for IMAX, but if the film continues to perform well, it will help motivate third-party exhibitors to order IMAX screen installations or help hurry up deals they have pending. That kind of action validates the medium and makes it a business strategy worth embracing.

Fancy that -- the cure for cold feet is actually Happy Feet.

IMAX was recommended last summer to Motley Fool Rule Breakers newsletter subscribers. Time Warner is a Stock Advisor selection.

Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz loves to spot great things early. That's why he's been with The Motley Fool since 1995. He does not own shares in any of the companies in this story. He is also part of the Rule Breakers newsletter research team, seeking out tomorrow's ultimate growth stocks a day early. The Fool has a disclosure policy.