Movie theaters are doing boffo business

During the Great Depression, Americans flocked to ornate movie houses to forget about their troubles. Now, they are turning to impersonal multiplexes for relief.

Movie admissions are up about 10 percent year-to-date, according to the National Association of Theater Owners (NATO), a trade association. Box Office Mojo estimates that box office receipts are up more than 14 percent. Five movies this year have grossed more than $100 million. This is great news for movie exhibitors.

Shares of Regal Entertainment Group Inc. (RGC) are up 39 percent this year, eclipsing companies which make movies, including Time Warner Inc. (TWX), News Corp. (NWS), and Walt Disney Co. (DIS), all of which have dropped by double digits. Rival Cinemark Inc (CNK) has gained 33 percent. Carmike Cinemas Inc. (CKEC) has soared more than 160 percent over the past month.