“We’re in the middle of summer, and we just said why not, because kids are out of school,” said Dan Fellman, head of distribution for Warner Bros. “It certainly turned out to be the right decision.” “Order of the Phoenix” did more business in five days than each of the first three “Harry Potter” movies did in their first full week, and it nearly matched the $146 million first week total of the fourth film, “Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire,” Fellman said. Warner Bros. counts on the “Harry Potter” frenzy to persist with the publication Saturday of the final book in the series, “Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.” “People are going to have Potter mania happening again when the book comes out,” said Paul Dergarabedian, president of box-office tracker Media By Numbers. “They’ll be walking book in hand into the movie theater.” By the numbers Estimated ticket sales for Friday through Sunday at U.S. and Canadian theaters, according to Media By Numbers LLC. Final figures will be released today.1. “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix,” $77.4 million.2. “Transformers,” $36 million.3. “Ratatouille,” $18 million.4. “Live Free or Die Hard,” $10.9 million.5. “License to Wed,” $7.4 million.6. “1408,” $5.01 million.7. “Evan Almighty,” $5 million.8. “Knocked Up,” $3.7 million.9. “SiCKO,” $2.65 million.10. “Ocean’s Thirteen,” $1.9 million.160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! Harry Potter remains a box-office charmer. The Warner Bros. fantasy sequel “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” conjured up a $77.4 million debut to lead the weekend box office, according to studio estimates Sunday. That raised the movie’s total domestic gross to $140 million since opening Wednesday. “Order of the Phoenix” also has taken in an additional $190.3 million in 44 other countries where it began rolling out Wednesday. “Transformers,” the DreamWorks-Paramount sci-fi tale that was the previous weekend’s No.1 movie, slipped to second place with $36 million, lifting its total to $223 million. The weekend’s other new wide release, grisly horror story “Captivity” from Lionsgate and After Dark Films, opened out of the top 10 with $1.55 million, coming in at No.12. The movie stars Elisha Cuthbert as a model who is abducted and tortured. “Order of the Phoenix” expanded overall business for Hollywood. The top 12 movies took in $171.1 million, up 14 percent from the same weekend last year, when “Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest” was No.1 with $62.3 million. The fifth chapter in the movie series based on J.K. Rowling’s novels about the teen wizard, “Order of the Phoenix” has Harry (Daniel Radcliffe) leading a secret society of students to prepare for the coming showdown with the evil Lord Voldemort. The previous four “Harry Potter” flicks all had bigger first weekends, ranging from $88.4 million to $102.7 million, but those all debuted Friday. “Order of the Phoenix” was the first to get a jump on the weekend with a Wednesday opening.
Re “Free speech crackdown” (Aug. 2): Isn’t it time that we, as citizens of Los Angeles, insist on rules of decorum for members of the City Council? The council members should be required to come to the council meetings and show respect and listen to the citizens who attend the meetings to voice their restricted-to-one-minute opinions about what the council does, doesn’t do and should do. – Bill Zelenka – Philip Wilt Van Nuys The unforgiven Let’s see if I got this straight. Vanessa Williams, Rob Lowe and Paul Rubens, who were guilty of moral turpitude, had their careers resuscitated after lying low for a while. Jesse Jackson called Jews by a racial slur and Hillary Rodham Clinton denigrated an employee with a Jewish racial slur while sober, and all is forgotten – but Mel Gibson, who has apologized very thoroughly for his disgraceful slurs about Jews while drunk, is finished? I do not believe it will happen, but this is a perfect example of those who think they are powerful enough to destroy those who step out of line. (Mel Gibson was never forgiven by certain people for producing “The Passion of the Christ.”) And the frenzied media watch and report with glee, hoping to see blood. – Maureen C. Wiggins Lake View Terrace Lethal mouth When celebrities climb onto a soap box, immediately they get diarrhea of the mouth and spew drivel regarding their uninformed opinions about nuclear power plants, offshore drilling, trees, land with squatting farmers, owls, the death penalty, starving children everywhere in the world except here, etc., etc., etc. – and the star-struck world listens. Let a celebrity get drunk and act like any other drunk, and everyone wants to vilify him. – Gary E. Skogen Littlerock Cut Mel some slack I am so tired of the media spending so much time on the Mel Gibson arrest. He was drunk, and people do things and say things that they wouldn’t normally do or say if they were sober. Let it go. He has admitted that he has a problem with alcohol and is doing something about it. He has apologized for what he said. Leave it alone, please. Tom Cruise made an ass of himself earlier this year. I would sooner see a movie with Mel Gibson in it, or a movie made by Mel Gibson, than see anything that Tom Cruise has something to do with. Stop already! Cut Mel some slack. He needs support, not condemnation. The whole thing has been blown out of proportion. – Pat Meiner Canoga Park Warming and hot air Re “Leaders fight climate change” (Aug. 2): In the controversy over global warming/cooling, politicians just can’t come up with a straight story. This includes the recent remarks of Mayor Antonio Villaraigosa, Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, former President Bill Clinton and others. They all failed to tell us what they have determined to be the optimum global temperatures – and why. They have not convinced anybody that the current temperatures are the best of all possible worlds and no other temperatures are acceptable. Nevertheless, they eagerly propose to tax the public, to charge higher fuel costs and to impose crippling regulations on the economy. It’s not just political hot air; it is a dangerous blast against the public’s welfare and pocketbooks. – Carl Olson Woodland Hills Contributing factor Re “Leaders fight climate change” (Aug. 2): The problem with this article, like many articles in the mainstream press, is that it presents only one side of a complex and controversial issue. In this case, it presents the carbon-dioxide theory as the sole cause of global warming. I did a little research on the ice ages and quickly found dozens of in-depth scientific papers on climate change. The preponderance of the papers suggested variations in solar radiation as the leading factor that melted the mile-thick sheet of ice that covered America as recently as 10,000 years ago. Yes, Virginia, the sun does warm Earth. Earth is also being warmed by all the hot air pouring out of Washington and Sacramento. – John Knight Glendale And global cooling Re “Leaders fight climate change” (Aug. 2): With last week’s record high temperatures, the global-warming people had a field day. It seems that this was the perfect way to advance their argument. What about the cooling trend in South Africa? Global warming: Page 1 news. Global cooling: Page 9. – Bill Merriman Tujunga Renters pay also Re “Tax renter parents” (Your Opinions, Aug. 3): I would remind Mike Judge of Simi Valley that renters pay property tax, too. Their landlord – whether a family, a person or a corporation – is in business, and any successful business passes along costs. While tenants do not receive a tax bill, neither do they enjoy the mortgage deductions on both state and federal tax bills. I am not saying that I support or oppose the proposed $50-per-parcel flat tax. I am pointing out that Mike Judge is way off target when he pinpoints renters as not paying their fair share of property taxes. – William Cinnamon III North Hollywood Do not disturb Re “Not a drama queen” (Your Opinions, Aug. 2): Get off your high horse, lady. A rule is a rule, a law is a law, an ordinance is an ordinance, and we don’t care who your husband is; nor are we interested in your whining political gyrations over a basketball hoop illegally placed at a curbside. If there is a law, there is a reason for it. Yes, and the reason is that your neighbors, for instance, do not wish to be disturbed by the noise of your basketball-playing, 18-year-old son. The law says no! – Almut Bower Winnetka If the hoop don’t fit … Re “Not a drama queen” (Your Opinions, Aug 2): I was educated by Wendy Brogin about Nate Brogin’s medals, and she graced us with a line of poetry. His war record is admirable, but I stand by my criticism of his campaign to keep his basketball hoop on our street. As a native of Los Angeles, I have love for this place that I could never abandon. That said, I am regularly irritated by people who don’t want to obey our rules and who waste our government resources – in this case, infringing on a compliant citizen’s request for the hoop removal. I think Nate Brogin loves this place, too. We have a system designed to keep everyone relatively happy and safe. So, Wendy Brogin, to invoke some Angeleno folklore – poetry, if you will: If the hoop don’t fit, you must remove it. – Dan Sharp Northridge Criminal costs Re “Prison plan price tag $6 billion” (Aug. 2): I think I could help Arnie Schwarzenegger and Phil Angelides to save a few bucks. All you have to do is open those prison gates to a waiting bus and take all the illegals back across the border. That would free up a lot of jail beds and, voila, we taxpayers save $6 billion. – Kathy Miller Sylmar160Want local news?Sign up for the Localist and stay informed Something went wrong. Please try again.subscribeCongratulations! You’re all set! AD Quality Auto 360p 720p 1080p Top articles1/5READ MOREFrumpy Middle-aged Mom: My realistic 2020 New Year’s resolutions. Some involve doughnuts.Granada Hills Talk first Re “Israelis pushing to clear out land” (Aug. 2): Israel now realizes that the elimination of Hezbollah (Party of God) is not possible and is creating a buffer zone inside Lebanon until peacekeepers can go in. The U.S. has always believed that elements of Hezbollah blew up the U.S. Marine barracks in Beirut in 1983, but beyond that, neither Hezbollah nor Hamas has ever threatened the USA. That could change as we continue to give the green light to Israel. Ideologies are not changed by force, as evident in Afghanistan, where the Taliban is again on the march. Since U.S. and Israeli policy is not to talk to “terrorists,” they will have their go at each other first – before talking. Why, oh why, can’t supposedly intelligent people do the talking first, rather than later, and spare the lives and property of the innocent and poor?