Weekend Box Office (September 20 - 22, 2002)

*** Read the Summer 2002 Wrapup ***

THIS WEEKEND The hit comedy Barbershop fended off competition from four new releases to retain its box office crown for the second consecutive weekend with a gross of $12.8M, according to final studio figures. Looking to build upon its core urban following, MGM added 289 playdates boosting the theater count for the Ice Cube starrer to 1,894 and averaged a strong $6,767. Sales were trimmed by 38% but the average was buzzed by a steeper 47%. After ten days, the $12M production has grossed $38.4M and seems headed for a stellar $70-75M.

A double stint at number one is nothing new for Ice Cube. The rapper-turned-actor pulled the same feat before with 1997's Anaconda and 2000's Next Friday. Barbershop now aims to become Cube's highest-grossing picture taking the title away from the python pic. The PG-13 comedy also gives its studio a well-needed source of profits.

Fox Searchlight set new company records with the opening of the Susan Sarandon-Goldie Hawn comedy The Banger Sisters which bowed to $10M from 2,738 theaters landing it in second place. It was the biggest debut and the widest launch ever for the specialty distributor. Sisters, which averaged a mediocre $3,666 per site, finds the actresses playing former groupies reunited in their middle-age years after living very different lives. Audiences were generally pleased with the R-rated pic as moviegoers polled by CinemaScore.com gave the film a B+ grade. The adult-skewing picture faced direct competition from My Big Fat Greek Wedding and The Four Feathers this weekend making it difficult to dominate the demographic.

Still showing Titanic-style legs, IFC Films' Greek Wedding dipped just 10% and grossed $9.7M in its 23rd weekend of release boosting its cume to a festive $124.1M. Now in its tenth frame in the top ten, the sleeper smash has spent more time in the elite group than any other movie released this year including 2002's biggest blockbuser, Spider-Man. Only Oscar champ A Beautiful Mind, which opened in December 2001, has spent more time in the top ten this year with 14 weekends. Now playing in 1,853 theaters, up 89, Greek Wedding averaged a still-healthy $5,261 per venue. For six consecutive weekends now, the PG-rated hit has kept its per-theater average between $5,000 and $7,000 which is a difficult task for a consistently-expanding film. Though scant, the 10% dip was the largest decline suffered by the film in over two months as most frames have seen increases. A total gross of at least $165M now seems easily reachable for the $5M-budgeted pic with the sky still serving as the limit.

Warner Bros. infiltrated 2,705 theaters and captured $7M with the action pic Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever but lacked firepower with a weak $2,592 average. The R-rated film stars Antonio Banderas and Lucy Liu as competing spies with Wych "Kaos" Kaosayananda making his feature directorial debut. Moviegoers polled by CinemaScore.com balked and gave the pic a B- grade.

Paramount grossed $6.9M from a narrower 1,912-theater release with the historical war epic The Four Feathers and averaged a somewhat stronger $3,587. The weekend's only PG-13 newcomer stars Heath Ledger as a nineteenth century British soldier on a quest to prove his bravery after being branded a coward. Directed by Shekhar Kapur (Elizabeth), Feathers also stars Wes Bentley, Kate Hudson, and Djimon Hounsou. According to the studio, the film skewed very adult with 73% of those polled being over the age of 25. Males and females were equally represented with the CinemaScore.com grade being a favorable B+. Miramax will distribute the co-production overseas.

Robin Williams dropped three spots to sixth with the creepfest One Hour Photo which grossed $4.6M in its second weekend of national release. Down 42%. the Fox Searchlight release added 120 playdates and averaged a respectable $3,477 from 1,332 locations. Photo has grossed $21.7M to date and should finish with $32-35M.

Buena Vista's Signs eased 35% to $3.5M pushing its total to $217.9M.putting the Mel Gibson blockbuster at number 32 on the list of all-time domestic blockbusters ahead of 1990's Ghost which took in $217.6M. Ticket prices, of course, were less expensive twelve years ago.

Fox's teen thriller Swimfan followed in eighth also with $3.5M, down 42%, for a $24.4M sum. The Tom Green comedy Stealing Harvard dropped 45% in its sophomore frame to $3.3M. With a ten-day cume of only $10.6M, the Sony release looks to reach only $17-19M.

The Charlize Theron-Kevin Bacon kidnapping thriller Trapped opened quietly in tenth place with $3.2M from 2,227 theaters. Averaging a poor $1,442 per site, the R-rated Sony release was backed by a subdued publicity campaign as the studio did not want to give the impression that it was taking advantage of recent news stories involving kidnapped children. Moviegoers were not too impressed as CinemaScore.com audiences gave Trapped a B-.

The Japanese animated blockbuster Spirited Away sparkled in its North American debut grossing $449,839 from only 26 theaters for a vibrant $17,302 average. Buena Vista released Japan's highest-grossing film in ten major markets this weekend and looks to add another ten next weekend as it continues its steady rollout.

Lions Gate shined with the limited bow of the dark drama Secretary which typed up $182,306 in only 11 offices for a superb $16,573 per theater. The James Spader film expands into about 50 sites next weekend. After a sensational launch last weekend, United Artists widened the Kieran Culkin comedy Igby Goes Down from 10 to 102 theaters and grossed $758,140 for a solid $7,433 average. Cume stands at $1.2M.

Universal blasted off with a strong launch for the Imax version of the 1995 blockbuster Apollo 13 grossing $200,645 from only 18 theaters. The Tom Hanks film averaged a stellar $11,147 per location and aims to help open the doors for more large-format versions of popular hits.

Four films were pushed out of the top ten over the weekend. Robert De Niro's City by the Sea plunged 59% and collected $2M in its third weekend for a $20.2M cume. The Warner Bros. release should conclude with $22-24M. Sony's spy actioner XXX also took in $2M, grossing $138.3M to date, and is headed for a final tally of about $143M.

Among summer sequels, Miramax's Spy Kids 2 has banked $79.9M to date and should conclude its mission with $83-85M. New Line's comedy smash Austin Powers in Goldmember finally left the top ten after two months and has shagged $211.1M to date. The Mike Myers vehicle is on course for a $213M final putting it at number 37 on the list of all-time blockbusters.

The top ten films grossed $64.6M which was up 65% from last year when Hardball remained at number one with $8.1M; and up 45% from 2000 when Urban Legends: Final Cut remained in the top spot with $8.5M. It should be noted, however, that the year-ago frame was the worst of the year as most scheduled new releases were postponed in the wake of the September 11 attacks.

Compared to projections, Barbershop was very close to my $12M forecast while The Banger Sisters opened a couple of notches below my $14M prediction. Ballistic debuted near my $8M projection. Both The Four Feathers and Trapped opened a little weaker than my respective forecasts of $10M and $5M.

Read the 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 the opening of Sweet Home Alabama. In last week's survey, readers were asked whether My Big Fat Greek Wedding would reach $175M. Of 2,363 responses, 18% voted Yes while 82% said No.

Be sure to check back on Thursday for a complete summary, including projections, for next weekend when Sweet Home Alabama and The Tuxedo both premiere.

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

# Title Sep 20 - 22 Sep 13 - 15 % Chg. Theaters Weeks AVG Cumulative Distributor
1 Barbershop $ 12,817,223 $ 20,627,433 -37.9 1,894 2 $ 6,767 $ 38,393,266 MGM
2 The Banger Sisters 10,037,846 2,738 1 3,666 10,037,846 Fox Searchlight
3 My Big Fat Greek Wedding 9,748,969 10,772,146 -9.5 1,853 23 5,261 124,052,987 IFC Films
4 Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever 7,010,474 2,705 1 2,592 7,010,474 Warner Bros.
5 The Four Feathers 6,857,879 1,912 1 3,587 6,857,879 Paramount
6 One Hour Photo 4,631,662 8,006,660 -42.2 1,332 5 3,477 21,746,002 Fox Searchlight
7 Signs 3,500,717 5,405,275 -35.2 2,338 8 1,497 217,941,210 Buena Vista
8 Swimfan 3,486,197 6,051,863 -42.4 2,572 3 1,355 24,445,584 Fox
9 Stealing Harvard 3,303,778 6,041,521 -45.3 2,366 2 1,396 10,606,755 Sony
10 Trapped 3,210,765 2,227 1 1,442 3,210,765 Sony
11 XXX 2,013,634 3,308,202 -39.1 1,891 7 1,065 138,314,426 Sony
12 City by the Sea 1,978,267 4,862,445 -59.3 2,150 3 920 20,209,428 Warner Bros.
13 Spy Kids 2 1,695,600 2,742,641 -38.2 1,982 7 855 79,920,389 Miramax
14 Austin Powers in Goldmember 925,687 1,854,216 -50.1 1,109 9 835 211,075,701 New Line
15 Igby Goes Down 758,140 306,705 147.2 102 2 7,433 1,191,167 MGM/UA
16 The Good Girl 610,028 1,257,053 -51.5 524 7 1,164 12,723,923 Fox Searchlight
17 Blue Crush 526,250 1,149,030 -54.2 842 6 625 39,799,655 Universal
18 Spirited Away 449,839 26 1 17,302 449,839 Buena Vista
19 Road to Perdition 390,839 913,725 -57.2 656 11 596 103,235,362 DreamWorks
20 The Bourne Identity 362,480 504,675 -28.2 394 15 920 120,087,355 Universal
Top 5 $ 46,472,391 $ 51,499,623 -9.8
Top 10 64,605,510 69,672,402 -7.3
Top 20 74,316,274 78,700,557 -5.6
Top 20 vs. 2001 74,316,274 51,063,766 45.5

Last Updated : September 23, 2002 at 10:30PM EDT