It seems as if IMAX (NASDAQ:IMAX) has become the best friend of leading multiplex operators. Shares of the large-screen experience maker climbed higher yesterday after it announced a joint venture with movie-house chain Muvico.

The deal calls for just three screen installations: two in Florida that will open in time for this summer's cinematic blockbusters, and a third to open in New Jersey's Xanadu development next year.

The news follows similar deals brokered last month with Regal (NYSE:RGC) and Kansas-based Dickinson. AMC came on board two years ago.

"A big part of our strategy is to offer a premium movie experience that people can't get at home or in any other type of theater, and IMAX furthers that objective," Muvico President and CEO Michael Whalen said yesterday.

Is Whalen really trashing his own industry to benefit IMAX? Not exactly. Muvico's higher-end theaters tend to be dynamic venues. However, even if he doesn't lump his own chain in with those of stagnant rivals, teaming up with IMAX speaks volumes.

The math is working in IMAX's favor at the moment. Time Warner's (NYSE:TWX) 300 is the first release of the year to top the $200 million mark in domestic ticket sales, but it couldn't have done so without the $20 million in box-office receipts from IMAX locations. As popular as 300 has been at mainstream cinemas, receipts are coming in nearly three times higher at the average IMAX location. Sure, an IMAX retrofit doesn't come cheap, since one screen typically takes up the space of two conventional multiplex screens. But if you can triple the sales, draw in a more sophisticated movie audience, and create the allure of an upscale entertainment brand, IMAX is a sound value proposition.

So why is IMAX trading for about $5 these days? Well, the company has had reporting delays, accounting hiccups, and installation disappointments. Cap that off with a proposed company sale that proved fruitless and a sea of gun-shy creditors, and you get a picture that is a stark contrast from the company's recent popularity among multiplex operators.

Creditors are now willing to extend the leash on IMAX by giving it more time to restate past financials, so maybe they, too, are starting to come around. All the company needs now is for Wall Street to come around, but that may have to wait until all these deals begin having an impact on the bottom line. 

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Longtime Fool contributor Rick Munarriz laments the closure of the IMAX screen a mile away from his home, but he's willing to cross the county line to get to an IMAX for the right flick. 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.