You may not know it from watching the stocks of Hollywood's largest moviemakers, but it's been a record year for celluloid at the box office.

This morning, theater chain Regal Entertainment(NYSE: RGC) posted better-than-expected September quarter results. Thanks to a summer season that started early and strong with Spider-Man and the latest Star Wars, Men in Black, and Austin Powers installments and carried through to Signs and the romantic comedy sleeper hit My Big Fat Greek Wedding, the company earned $0.29 a share on $571.5 million in revenue.

Regal went public in May, contrasting debt-laden movie houses, such as AMC Entertainment(NYSE: AEN) and other regional chains, that came and went in the days of leveraged ignorance. Under its United Artists, Edward, and namesake AMC marquees, the company projects on 5,711 screens in 350 different locations. It's about more than just selling overpriced tubs of soda and popcorn. As a matter of fact, Paramount parent Viacom(NYSE: VIA) started out as a theater operator before CEO Sumner Redstone went on an asset-buying spree.

But media companies are in the dumps, for the most part. Check out the stocks of entertainment conglomerates with significant movie studio interests, such as Disney(NYSE: DIS), AOL Time Warner(NYSE: AOL), and Vivendi(NYSE: V), and you'll see more carnage than causes for celebration. But things would've been worse if it weren't for the movie business. With audiences packing in theaters and titles selling briskly in the home-video market, these giants have been tripped up elsewhere in their portfolio. From a soft ad market to weak tourism tallies, their reliance on debt hasn't helped, either.

Regal has managed to avoid these setbacks, however. It's rocking and rolling and reeling along, as the audience continues to crave filmed entertainment, even through -- especially through -- these uncertain times. The company also launched a $0.15-a-share quarterly dividend today. Pocket change, sure, but it'll cover those Jujy Fruits and nachos at the concession stand.