HARRY POTTER AND THE SCOURGE OF THE CANNIBALS

The success of the final Harry Potter book, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (it reportedly sold 10.9 million copies in just the U.S. and the U.K. in its first 24 hours), cannibalized ticket sales for the latest Harry Potter movie, Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, most box-office analysts agreed. In its second weekend, the film dropped 58 percent to come in second with $32.5 million. It was beaten by the latest Adam Sandler movie (with Kevin James), I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, which earned $34.2 million. Even more embarrassing, perhaps, was the fact that on a per-theater basis, Harry was beaten by Hairspray, with the former averaging $7,587 per theater and the latter, $8,804. Solid numbers were also recorded for fourth-place Transformers, which took in an additional $20.5 million to bring its three-week total to $263 million, and fifth-place Ratatouille, which added $10.9 million to its tally, bringing its four-week gross to $165.5 million.

The top ten films over the weekend, according to final figures compiled by Media by Numbers (figures in parentheses represent total gross to date):

1. I Now Pronounce You Chuck and Larry, Universal, $34,233,750, (New); 2. Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix, Warner Bros., $32,511,350, 2 Wks. ($207,866,865); 3. Hairspray, New Line, $27,476,745, (New); 4. Transformers, Paramount, $20,514,497, 3 Wks. ($262,978,000); 5. Ratatouille, Disney, $10,899,179, 4 Wks. ($165,519,955); 6. Live Free or Die Hard, 20th Century Fox, $7,101,638, 4 Wks. ($116,267,866); 7. License to Wed, Warner Bros., $3,577,230, 3 Wks. ($38,495,133); 8. 1408, MGM, $2,621,194, 5 Wks. ($67,453,524); 9. Evan Almighty, Universal, $2,552,890, 5 Wks. ($93,567,015); 10. Knocked Up, Universal, $2,292,640, 8 Wks. ($142,698,885).

NETFLIX SHARES PLUNGE

Only hours after reporting a 50-percent increase in net income for its second-quarter compared to the same period last year, online DVD renter Netflix issued a profit forecast Monday indicating that it expects profits to fall during the rest of the year following its decision to reduce subscription rates and upgrade customer service to compete more effectively against Blockbuster. Shares plunged 12 percent Monday, closing at $17.27. They continued falling today (Tuesday) after an analyst at Jackson Securities reiterated his "hold" rating on the company and reduced its target price to $16 from $21. At mid-morning trading, the stock was selling for $16.49.

TAX INCENTIVES BOOST U.K. FILM INDUSTRY, SAYS STUDY

Crediting government tax credits, the British research firm Oxford Economics said Monday that the U.K. film industry contributed $8.8 billion to the national economy, up nearly 40 percent from 2004. "The new tax credit works. It's clearer, simpler and a good deal for investors in film," U.K Film Council CEO John Woodward told reporters. On the other hand, the study observed, if the tax incentives were withdrawn, the industry would atrophy as the number of films produced in the country would drop by 75 percent. Growth was primarily spurred by such British blockbuster co-productions as Casino Royale and The Da Vinci Code, the study said, but it was also driven by several more modest movies including The Queen, Constant Gardener, The Wind That Shakes the Barley, and Red Road. Woodward also noted that industry growth is expected to expand further with such films as the next Harry Potter and James Bond sequels as well as the movie adaptation of the musical Mamma Mia coming up. Meanwhile, reports in the U.K. said that Daniel Craig has signed a contract worth $26 million to appear in the next two James Bond movies.

FAMED CINEMATOGRAPHER KOVACS DEAD AT 74

Laszlo Kovacs, the cinematographer who gained attention in the 1960s by distinctively employing natural lighting in such films as Easy Rider and Five Easy Pieces, died Saturday in Beverly Hills of cancer at age 74, it was disclosed Monday. A few years after coming to the U.S. following the 1956 Hungarian revolution, he became one of the industry's most sought-after "lensers," working on a mixture of mainstream and art-house classics including Shampoo, Ghostbusters, Inside Moves, Say Anything, Miss Congeniality and the documentaries Directed by John Ford and The Last Waltz. In 2002, the year of his final film (Two Weeks' Notice), he received the American Society of Cinematographers' Lifetime Achievement Award.

Brian B.