"Barbershop," the warmhearted ensemble comedy starring Ice Cube as reluctant proprietor of his late father's business, premiered in first place at the box office with $21 million over the weekend, according to studio estimates Sunday.
The year's big sleeper hit, "My Big Fat Greek Wedding," remained in the No. 2 spot with $11 million, pushing its total to $110.7 million to become the 15th movie of 2002 to cross the $100-million mark.
And in its first weekend of fairly wide release, Robin Williams' stalker thriller, "One Hour Photo," came in third, with $7.7 million.
The weekend's other new wide release, Jason Lee and Tom Green's crime comedy, "Stealing Harvard," premiered at No. 4 with $6.3 million, finishing slightly ahead of last weekend's top film, "Swimfan," which grossed $6.1 million.
Overall, box office revenues rose for the first time in nearly two months. The top 12 movies took in an estimated $72 million, up 38% from the same weekend last year, although that was a relatively slow period in the aftermath of the Sept. 11 terrorist attacks.
"Barbershop" played in 1,605 theaters and averaged a whopping $13,084 a cinema.
"'If you make a good movie, they'll come," said Peter Adee, head of marketing for "Barbershop" distributor MGM. "I think there's a big audience out there that goes to good movies, whether they're ethnic or not. Just look at 'My Big Fat Greek Wedding.' "
"Greek Wedding" added 69 locations to reach its widest release yet at 1,764 theaters and average $6,254, an impressive figure considering it has been out for five months.
The romantic comedy starring its screenwriter, Nia Vardalos, and John Corbett, cost just $5 million to make and could finish with a domestic gross of $150 million to $160 million, said Rob Schwartz, head of distribution for IFC Films, which released "Greek Wedding."
"One Hour Photo" averaged $6,337 in 1,212 theaters. "Stealing Harvard" played in 2,366 theaters and averaged a so-so $2,663.
Besides "Barbershop," MGM had good news during the weekend with the dark coming-of-age comedy "Igby Goes Down," which averaged $31,918 at 10 theaters in New York City and Los Angeles. The film, featuring Kieran Culkin, Susan Sarandon, Jeff Goldblum, Claire Danes and Ryan Phillippe, will expand to more theaters during the next two weekends.
MGM is struggling to recover from a string of box office losers such as "Windtalkers" and "Hart's War." With "Barbershop" and "Igby," the studio now has two solid lead-ins to an almost certain smash in "Die Another Day," the 20th James Bond flick, which opens in November.