Wall Street Watch: Hollywood's Bean Counters Are Smiling Again

Hotel Transylvania
Hotel Transylvania

Movie exhibitors are starting to get tingly again.

After several weeks of lackluster showings, theaters were busy this past weekend. Sony's (SNE) Hotel Transylvania rang up a surprisingly robust $43 million in ticket sales, making it the industry's largest September opening -- ever.

The industry hopes to keep it going this weekend, relying on familiar franchises. 20th Century Fox's Taken 2 and Disney's (DIS) Frankenweenie should be the two major draws at your local multiplex over the weekend.

Taken 2, which got off to an early start with late night screenings on Thursday, brings back Liam Neeson to reprise his role as the vengeful father out to protect his family from a horde of baddies. Frankenweenie, Tim Burton's stop-action animated film is a theatrical release based on an animated short he did for Disney during his early years. Disney is going all out with Burton's movie, offering it up in both 3-D and super-sized on IMAX (IMAX).

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As rough as 2012 -- and 2011, for that matter -- has been for domestic theater operators, IMAX has been the silver lining of the silver screen. Multiplex operators keep turning to IMAX makeovers in order to sell premium movie-viewing experiences, and patrons keep paying them.

IMAX has also managed to grow overseas. Many of its new openings are international locations. The end result is that analysts see IMAX growing its profitability by 83% this year on a 21% spike in revenue. In other words, it doesn't need Frankenweenie as much as stateside exhibitors do, but it'll take the business.

Other Things Worth Watching

• Things will be quiet on the earnings front on Friday outside of the report by wine and beer distributor Constellation Brands (STZ). Analysts are holding out for a profit of $0.54 a share, well short of the $0.77 a share it served up a year earlier.

• On the economic data front, the Labor Department releases last month's employment data in the morning, but traders may want to stick around until the afternoon before getting an early jump on the Columbus Day weekend. The Federal Reserve will release consumer credit data for the month of August when there's just an hour left in Friday's trading day.

Motley Fool contributor Rick Munarriz does not own shares in any of the stocks in this article, except for Disney. The Motley Fool owns shares of Walt Disney and IMAX. Motley Fool newsletter services have recommended buying shares of IMAX and Walt Disney.

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