Weekend Box Office (September 13 - 15, 2002)

*** Read the NEW Summer 2002 Wrapup ***

THIS WEEKEND Ice Cube floated to the top of the charts and hit a new career high with his newest comedy Barbershop which helped lead the box office out of its recent doldrums. Indie sensation My Big Fat Greek Wedding held onto second place and crossed the $100M mark while One Hour Photo widened into national release and finished with solid results in third. Smaller films took charge of the marketplace as the top three movies all played in less than 1,800 theaters. The top ten films generated a healthy $70M which was up significantly from both last weekend and a year ago.

MGM scored its first number one opening in over a year with Barbershop which grossed $20.6M over the weekend, according to final studio figures, beating the most bullish industry expectations. Making its performance so astounding was the fact that the ensemble comedy played in only 1,605 theaters for a muscular $12,852 average. It was the biggest debut ever for rapper-turned-actor Ice Cube beating 1997's python pic Anaconda which bowed to $16.6M from 2,456 locations. The opening weekend gross more than exceeded the pic's reported $12M pricetag and should make it one of the most profitable films of the fall season.

In the Tim Story-directed film, Cube plays a man who must fight to reclaim the barbershop he inherited from his father but later sold to a loan shark. Also starring are comedian Cedric the Entertainer, hip hop star Eve, and actor Sean Patrick Thomas. While many of Ice Cube's films have carried an edgier R rating, Barbershop's PG-13 rating allowed the comedy to reach pre-teens and benefit from a wider audience. A solid urban fan base that loyally supports the rap star was also an instrumental factor. Reviews were generally favorable and moviegoers were pleased as audiences polled by CinemaScore.com gave the film a promising A- grade.

For the troubled studio, Barbershop delivered its first chart-topper since Jeepers Creepers from Labor Day weekend of last year, and the biggest overall opening since Hannibal in Feb 2001. MGM ranks last among major studios in marketshare this year, but hopes that Barbershop and November's James Bond entry Die Another Day will help it bounce back.

My Big Fat Greek Wedding continued to defy gravity and spent its third consecutive weekend in the bridesmaid position with $10.8M take. Up 4% from last weekend, the IFC Films release added 69 more theaters to its miraculous run and averaged a strong $6,107 from 1,764 altars. On Friday, in its 148th day of release, Greek Wedding passed the magical $100M mark and still shows no signs of slowing. Cume to date stands at $110.4M. Even as more prints are being circulated, the PG-rated sleeper smash refuses to let its per-theater average slump as word-of-mouth keeps driving new business into the cinemas.

Fox Searchlight expanded its hit Robin Williams drama One Hour Photo into nationwide release and climbed into third place with $8M from just 1,212 theaters. Averaging a potent $6,606 per site, the R-rated thriller lifted its cume to $14.6M after its fourth weekend. The distributor is keeping very busy with its Jennifer Aniston film The Good Girl sitting at number 11 with $1.3M and this Friday's Susan Sarandon-Goldie Hawn comedy The Banger Sisters ready to unspool.

Last weekend's top film, the teen thriller Swimfan, fell 47% in its second weekend and took fourth place with $6.1M. With a reported budget of under $10M, the Fox title has taken in $19.7M in ten days and seems headed for a $32-35M final.

Opening poorly in fifth place was the slapstick comedy Stealing Harvard starring Jason Lee and Tom Green with $6M. The Sony/Revolution Studios pic about a pair of bumbling fools trying to raise college tuition money played on 2,366 campuses and averaged a brain-dead $2,553 per theater. Critics, not surprisingly panned the PG-13 film and ticket buyers were mostly in agreement as CinemaScore.com audiences gave the film a C grade.

M. Night Shyamalan's Signs placed sixth with $5.4M, off a reasonable 31%, lifting its total to $213M. That puts the Mel Gibson blockbuster at number 36 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters just below Mission: Impossible 2 which grossed $215.4M in 2000.

The Robert De Niro cop drama City by the Sea slumped 46% in its second weekend and grossed $4.9M. After ten days, the $40M Warner Bros. release has taken in just $16.7M and looks to retire with $26-29M.

Sony's XXX followed in eighth with $3.3M, down 36%, for a $135.4M cume. Spy Kids 2 slipped only 9% to $2.7M giving the Miramax sequel $77.4M to date.

Rounding out the top ten was Austin Powers in Goldmember which shagged $1.9M, off 32%, giving the Mike Myers comedy $209.6M. The New Line sequel now sits at number 37 on the all-time blockbuster chart right below fellow summer smash Signs.

MGM's United Artists division saw stellar numbers for its new Kieran Culkin-starrer Igby Goes Down which took in $306,705 from only ten theaters in New York and Los Angeles. The R-rated saga, which also stars Susan Sarandon, Jeff Goldblum, Ryan Phillippe, and Claire Danes, averaged a sizzling $30,670 per venue and expands into 100 more locations next weekend.

Paramount Classics added 31 theaters to the run of the German-language drama Mostly Martha and collected $379,511 from 101 sites for a $3,757 average. The German-language drama expanded into several markets like Denver, Minneapolis, Baltimore, and Montreal and pushed its cume to $1.7M.

The top ten films grossed an estimated $69.7M which was up 44% from last year when Hardball opened at number one with $9.4M; and up 100% from 2000 when The Watcher remained in the top spot with $5.8M. It should be noted that a year ago marked the weekend immediately after the September 11th attacks, while two years ago marked the start of the 2000 Summer Olympics when the box office plunged to a four-year low.

Compared to projections, Barbershop did open at number one, but more than doubled my $10M forecast. Stealing Harvard debuted a bit below my $8M prediction.

Read the NEW Summer 2002 Box Office Wrapup looking back at the season that was with the projected final grosses of the Top 20 summer hits.

Take this week's NEW Reader Survey on whether My Big Fat Greek Wedding will reach $175M at the box office. In last week's survey, readers were asked whether Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets would open bigger than the $90.3M bow of Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone. Of 3,870 responses, 58% said Yes while 42% thought No.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever, The Banger Sisters, Four Feathers, and Trapped all open.

Marketplace: Shop for videos, DVDs, music, books, and posters at discounted prices using search engines

# Title Sep 13 - 15 Sep 6 - 8 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Barbershop $ 20,627,433 1,605 1 $ 12,852 $ 20,627,433 MGM
2 My Big Fat Greek Wedding 10,772,146 10,372,316 3.9 1,764 22 6,107 110,443,668 IFC Films
3 One Hour Photo 8,006,660 1,506,058 431.6 1,212 4 6,606 14,567,429 Fox Searchlight
4 Swimfan 6,051,863 11,326,601 -46.6 2,859 2 2,117 19,682,646 Fox
5 Stealing Harvard 6,041,521 2,366 1 2,553 6,041,521 Sony
6 Signs 5,405,275 7,851,871 -31.2 3,051 7 1,772 213,032,514 Buena Vista
7 City by the Sea 4,862,445 8,935,426 -45.6 2,575 2 1,888 16,654,735 Warner Bros.
8 XXX 3,308,202 5,206,740 -36.5 2,771 6 1,194 135,393,339 Sony
9 Spy Kids 2 2,742,641 3,020,007 -9.2 2,493 6 1,100 77,397,043 Miramax
10 Austin Powers in Goldmember 1,854,216 2,721,316 -31.9 1,811 8 1,024 209,634,700 New Line
11 Spider-Man/MIB2 1,406,374 2,111,862 -33.4 1,670 2 842 3,971,552 Sony
12 The Good Girl 1,257,053 1,602,992 -21.6 669 6 1,879 11,663,555 Fox Searchlight
13 Blue Crush 1,149,030 1,878,325 -38.8 1,386 5 829 38,936,925 Universal
14 fear dot com 982,450 2,352,359 -58.2 1,548 3 635 12,247,376 Warner Bros.
15 Serving Sara 969,410 1,737,089 -44.2 1,908 4 508 15,874,409 Paramount
16 Road to Perdition 913,725 1,278,478 -28.5 1,134 10 806 102,521,537 DreamWorks
17 Possession 773,532 976,926 -20.8 619 5 1,250 9,088,016 Focus
18 Undisputed 611,016 1,218,951 -49.9 823 4 742 11,830,983 Miramax
19 The Bourne Identity 504,675 534,085 -5.5 468 14 1,078 119,546,570 Universal
20 The Master of Disguise 460,890 670,201 -31.2 687 7 671 38,792,609 Sony
Top 5 $ 51,499,623 $ 38,486,214 33.8
Top 10 69,672,402 55,776,823 24.9
Top 20 78,700,557 66,544,663 18.3
Top 20 vs. 2001 78,700,557 59,498,383 32.3

Last Updated : September 16, 2002 at 10:00PM EDT