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Winter Storm Winner and Losers: Blizzard at the Box Office?

The country's on track for the snowiest February in 115 years, which means business, is anything but usual.

Major retailers like Home Depot, Sears and K-Mart tell us they've closed a handful of stores because of weather and loss of power.

Target and Costco say that while their stores are open, they're monitoring the weather.

Costco's CFO noted that because this storm came on so fast, it didn't even get the benefit of the pantry stocking that usually boosts sales right before a storm.

And even if stir-crazy people make it to the mall, they certainly won't want to buy the spring merchandise that retailers are already featuring in stores. Though Wall Street's expecting a 2 percent or 3 percent increase from February same store sales on Thursday, Weather Trends International CEO Bill Kirk warns that storms could push monthly retail sales to one percent, or even to negative territory.

What about movie theaters?

Box Office Guru CEO Gitesh Pandya tells me that this storm is sure to affect ticket sales. The fact that it's hitting top markets like New York, Boston and DC on a weekend is bad news for the studios launching new films this weekend. But Pandya points out that the long term affect of the storm depends entirely on how good the film is — the box office could end up simply being displaced by a few days. "Avatar" (NWS) is a perfect example of this: its opening weekend box office was hurt by a blizzard in the Northeast, but the movie has more than compensated for that weak opening weekend.

The real winners from the winter storm? Dominos, Papa Johns, and Video-on-Demand.

Pizza delivery gets a major boost from this kind of weather. Weather Trends International CEO Bill Kirk says that pizza delivery increases an average of one percent for every degree the temperature drops from the prior year, and snow can triple that increase. Today New York is ten degree's colder than last year, which could mean a 30 % jump in pizza delivery from last year.

I would bet that video-on-demand, Netflix streaming, and TV ratings would also see a healthy jump this weekend.

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Questions? Comments? MediaMoney@cnbc.com

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  • Working from Los Angeles, Boorstin is CNBC's media and entertainment reporter and editor of CNBC.com's Media Money section.