NEW YORK ( The Deal) -- The blockbuster performance of "Jurassic World" this summer has been an unexpected boon to movie theater operators such as AMC Entertainment Holdings (AMC - Get Report), Cinemark Holdings (CNK - Get Report) and Regal Entertainment Group (RGC), as well as to theater technology companies such as Imax (IMAX - Get Report) and RealD (RLD).
The group looks forward to an even bigger holiday season, with "Star Wars 7" and the next "Hunger Games" installment slated for release.
After a disappointing 2014, theaters are bustling. Amid the anticipation of the coming blockbusters, the year's biggest cliffhanger may be a strategic review by RealD and the role, if any, that activist shareholder Starboard Value will play in the company's plans.
"A couple of months ago, it looked like the second quarter wasn't going to be up to expectations," said James Goss of Barrington Research Associates.
"Then we had another billion-dollar movie come through with 'Jurassic World,'" he said. "All of the sudden, if anything, it might be ahead of expectations."
"Jurassic World," from Comcast's (CMCSA - Get Report) Universal, is the third film this year to gross more than $1 billion. The others are Universal's "Furious 7" and Walt Disney's (DIS - Get Report) "Avengers: Age of Ultron."
Goss expects the domestic box office to hit about $11.2 billion this year.
"The rising tide is going to lift all of them," Wedbush Securities analyst Michael Pactor said of the theater operators and the exhibition technology companies.
Overseas, the plot is a bit murkier.
Cinemark Holdings has screens in more than a dozen Latin American countries, and Pactor said that the company could suffer from exchange rates.
On the other hand, Imax benefits from fast growth in China, Goss said.
The company plans to spin off its Chinese unit through an initial public offering.
"Imax should benefit a bit more because there is a greater concentration of blockbuster Imax films," Pactor said.
China represents an opportunity for RealD as well.
Fueled by expansion there, B. Riley & Co. analyst Eric Wold wrote in a report that RealD could post earnings before interest, taxes, depreciation and amortization growth of 21% on average for 2014 to 2016, while Imax could have a 24.3% growth rate.
He projected that theater operators will have average EBITDA growth rate of 11.9% for the period.
The most compelling story line for RealD is the resolution of a strategic review that the company undertook after feeling pressure from activist shareholder Starboard Value.
The activist fund offered $12 a share for the provider of three-dimensional technology last October, valuing RealD's equity at about $600 million. RealD rejected the offer and said in February that it had hired Moelis & Co.
Resolution could come in the next weeks. RealD postponed the period during which investors can nominate directors in April.
The window for nominating directors opened June 15 and closes on July 15.
"Given that we see no other reason for RealD's Board to move that proxy window back by two months if not to accommodate Starboard, we continue to believe they are working together to boost shareholder value with news to come," Wold wrote.
The end result could be "anything from a massive return of capital to a go-private/sale of the company decision," he wrote.
RealD, whose handiwork is on display in 3-D versions of "Jurassic World," "Mad Max: Fury Road" and "Avengers," declined to comment on the review.
Starboard Value didn't respond to a query.
The business outlook has certainly improved from last year, when Starboard Value began to press the company.
Disappointing ticket sales last year could have been influenced by a few events, Goss said.
Universal planned to release "Furious 7" on July 4, which can be the biggest weekend of the year for theater operators. The studio postponed the release after the death of star Paul Walker.
The box office also lacked a late-summer animated feature.
"That was at least several hundred million of revenue," Goss said.
This year, Hollywood could release five films grossing more than $1 billion worldwide. Candidates to join "Jurassic World," "Furious 7" and "Avengers" at the top of the 2015 the box office include "Hunger Games: Mockingjay Part 2," which Lions Gate Entertainment (LGF) will release on Nov. 20, and Disney's "Star Wars: The Force Awakens," which opens Dec. 18.
In the mergers and acquisitions market the big date is July 15, when the window for RealD board nominations closes.