Barbershop opened to a hair-raising $21 million that had the MGM lion roaring happily in first place.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding continued celebrating in second place with $11 million. With nearly $111 million already in hand, it's heading for $140 million.
One Hour Photo went wide and was an impressive third with $7.7 million.
Stealing Harvard kicked off uneventfully in fourth place to $6.3 million.
Swimfan sank into deeper box office waters, placing fifth in its second weekend with $6.1 million.
Driven by Barbershop, key films (those grossing $500,000 or more) were up 30 percent from last year -- $77.6 million versus $59.5 million. It was Hollywood's first up weekend after eighth consecutive weekends in which business was down from last year.
THE TOP TEN
MGM's PG-13 rated urban appeal comedy Barbershop opened atop the chart to a head-turning ESTIMATED $21.0 million at 1,605 theaters ($13,084 per theater).
Directed by Tim Story, it stars Ice Cube, Anthony Anderson, Sean Patrick Thomas, Eve and Cedric The Entertainer.
Barbershop's average per theater was the highest for any film playing in wide release this weekend.
A double-barreled success for us this weekend," MGM theatrical distribution president Eric Lomis said Sunday morning, referring to MGM's strong openings for both Barbershop and the limited release of United Artists' Igby Goes Down (see OTHER OPENINGS below).
"Obviously, we're thrilled with the number," Lomis said about Barbershop. "I mean, $21 million for this movie is just through the roof. It's a great movie. People love it. The filmmakers did a tremendous job on it. We couldn't be more pleased with the opening. It's doing most of its business with African-Americans and Hispanics. However, it is crossing over. We have a lot of really strong numbers from cross-over houses.
"And word of mouth is through the roof on this picture. The CinemaScores are great. The exit polls are great. And they're equally as great with both African-Americans and non-African-Americans. So we think the picture's going to run for a while. They delivered a great film. And the cast really worked hard on it. And (the result is) success."
Asked if MGM will go wider with Barbershop, Lomis replied, "We're going to try to expand a little bit. We're everywhere now. We just didn't saturate the market with it. But we're going to try to take a few hundred more runs this week."
IFC Films' release of Gold Circle Films and HBO's PG rated romantic comedy blockbuster My Big Fat Greek Wedding held on to second place in its 22nd week, still showing fantastic legs with an ESTIMATED $11.03 million (+6%) at 1,764 theaters (+69 theaters; $6,254 per theater). Its cume is approximately $110.7 million, heading for $140 million in domestic theaters.
If Wedding can crack $140.53 million, it will overtake Artisan Entertainment's The Blair Witch Project to become the domestic box office's biggest grossing independent film ever.
Directed by Joel Zwick, it stars Nia Vardalos and John Corbett.
Fox Searchlight Pictures' R rated thriller One Hour Photo went wide in its fourth week, developing a very encouraging ESTIMATED $7.68 million at 1,212 theaters (+1,039 theaters; $6,337 per theater). Its cume is approximately $14.2 million.
Written and directed by Mark Romanek, it stars Robin Williams.
"It's great. The picture's really showing a lot of strength," a Fox Searchlight spokesman said Sunday morning. "Obviously, it's got excellent word of mouth because in the markets where we're already open it's holding very well."
Revolution Studios and Columbia's PG-13 teen comedy Stealing Harvard opened uneventfully in fourth place to an ESTIMATED $6.3 million at 2,366 theaters ($2,663 per theater).
Directed by Bruce McCulloch, it stars Tom Green and Jason Lee.
"It's a modestly priced picture in the low $20 millions and we'll probably gross in that range and probably come out about even," Sony Pictures Entertainment worldwide marketing & distribution president Jeff Blake said Sunday morning.
20th Century Fox's PG-13 thriller Swimfan plunged four slots to fifth place in its second week with an ESTIMATED $6.07 million (-46%) at 2,859 theaters (+3 theaters; $2,123 per theater). Its cume is approximately $19.7 million.
Directed by John Polson, it stars Jesse Bradford, Erika Christensen and Shiri Appleby.
Buena Vista/Touchstone's PG-13 rated supernatural thriller blockbuster Signs fell two rungs to sixth place in its seventh week, still holding well with an ESTIMATED $5.3 million (-33%) at 3,051 theaters (-181 theaters; $1,725 per theater). Its cume is approximately $212.9 million, heading for $225 million.
Directed by M Night Shyamalan, it stars Mel Gibson.
Franchise Pictures R rated cop drama City by the Sea, released through Warner Bros., slid four slots to seventh place in its second week with a soggy ESTIMATED $4.78 million (-47%) at 2,575 theaters (theater count unchanged; $1,856 per theater). Its cume is approximately $16.6 million.
Directed by Michael Caton-Jones, it stars Robert De Niro, Frances McDormand and James Franco.
Revolution Studios and Columbia's PG-13 rated action adventure thriller xXx slipped three notches to eighth place in its sixth week with a quiet ESTIMATED $3.3 million (-37%) at 2,771 theaters (-317 theaters; $1,191 per theater). Its cume is approximately $135.4 million, heading for the low-to-mid $140 millions.
Directed by Rob Cohen and produced by Neal H Moritz, it stars Vin Diesel, Asia Argento and Marton Csokas.
Miramax/Dimension Films' PG rated family comedy sequel Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams fell three pegs to ninth place in its sixth week with a soft ESTIMATED $2.4 million (-21%) at 2,493 theaters (-328 theaters; $962 per theater). Its cume is approximately $77.1 million.
Directed by Robert Rodriguez, it stars Antonio Banderas and Carla Gugino.
Rounding out the Top Ten was New Line's PG-13 rated comedy sequel Austin Powers in Goldmember, down two pegs in its eighth week with a dull ESTIMATED $1.8 million (-34%) at 1,811 theaters (-291 theaters; $994 per theater). Its cume is approximately $209.5 million.
Directed by Jay Roach, it stars Mike Myers, Beyonce Knowles and Michael Caine.
This weekend also saw the arrival of United Artists' R rated dark comedy Igby Goes Down to a sizzling ESTIMATED $0.32 million at 10 theaters ($31,918 per theater).
Written and directed by Burr Steers, it stars Kieran Culkin, Claire Danes, Jeff Goldblum, Jared Harris, Amanda Peet, Ryan Phillippe, Bill Pullman and Susan Sarandon.
"Igby Goes Down was released only in New York and L.A.," MGM's Eric Lomis said Sunday morning. The film's average of nearly $32,000 per theater, he added, "is as good as it gets with these kinds of films. The critics and the audiences are all responding to it. That will be expanding this week, probably to about 100 theaters in 20 cities.
"We are equally as thrilled with Igby (as with the chart-topping launch of Barbershop) although obviously it's a much smaller scale. But it's a huge success for that film and that director, as well. Burr Steers directed it. It's a really good movie. He gave us a strong film and audiences love it."
Sony Pictures Classics' R rated Chinese drama Quitting opened to a slow ESTIMATED $8,000 at 5 theaters ($1,664 per theater).
Directed by Zhang Yang, it was an official selection at the Toronto International Film Festival and the Sundance Film Festival.
There were no national sneak previews this weekend.
On the expansion front this weekend Focus Features' romantic drama Possession added a few more theaters in its fifth week with a quiet ESTIMATED $0.7 million (-24%) at 619 theaters (+3 theaters; $1,195 per theater). Its cume is approximately $9.0 million.
Directed by Neil LaBute, it stars Gwyneth Paltrow and Aaron Eckhart.
Paramount Classics' PG rated German romantic comedy Mostly Martha went wider in its fifth week with a calm ESTIMATED $0.4 million at 101 theaters (+31 theaters; $3,940 per theater). Its cume is approximately $1.7 million.
Written and directed by Sandra Nettelbeck, it stars Martina Gedeck.
Key films -- those grossing more than $500,000 -- took in approximately $77.61 million for the weekend, up about 30.44 percent from last year when they totaled $59.5 million.
Key films were up about 15.75 percent from the previous weekend this year when they totaled $67.05 million.
Last year, Paramount's opening week of Hardball was first with $9.39 million at 2,137 theaters ($4,392 per theater); and Sony's opening week of The Glass House was second with $5.74 million at 1,591 theaters ($3,607 per theater). The top two films one year ago grossed $15.1 million. This year, the top two films grossed an ESTIMATED $32.0 million.
Billed as "a (mostly) true story," "Cradle Will Rock" is an interesting and vibrant look at American theater and art worlds facing adversity in 1930s New York played out as a cautionary tale against artistic censorship.
With an imaginative and informative original screenplay that seamlessly harmonizes true-life events and characters with fictionalized ones and acted with a labor-of-love energy by a cast of over a dozen well-respected actors from both film and stage, Tim Robbins' third directorial and writing effort employs a style that can be described as being both Altmanesque in scope and Sturgeslike in pacing and tone.
Although taking all this in can be a little too frantic and overpowering at times, "Cradle Will Rock" authentically re-creates the look and feel of the period admirably. With a highly charged theatricality that incorporates music and wit, viewing the film almost seems like experiencing live Broadway musical theater (that fact, combined with the subject matter at hand, should make the film a rare delight for theater aficionados yet a bit daunting for some mainstream moviegoers).
At the heart of the story is a production led by a young Orson Welles (Angus MacFadyen, a bit out of control). The production is a controversial musical piece about unionism by a little-known composer named Marc Blitzstein (an intense Hank Azaria). Under the auspices of the government's Works Progress Administration, Welles and his partner, John Houseman (captured with an amusing pretentiousness by Cary Elwes), lead a unit under the Federal Theatre Project (a Depression-era relief agency) headed by purposeful Hallie Flanagan (Tony winner Cherry Jones). Headed for trouble because of its supposedly inflammatory content, the play is eventually shut down by the federal government right before the first performance.
Also dealing with the concept of censorship is renowned Mexican artist Diego Rivera (spiritedly played by Ruben Blades), whose freedom of expression is denied after being commissioned by a controlling 24-year-old Nelson Rockefeller (a capable John Cusack) to paint a mural for the new Rockefeller Center.
Other figures of both the elite class, and struggling ones, are effectively played by diverse actors such as Joan Cusack, John Turturro, Emily Watson, Susan Sarandon, Jack Black, Paul Giamatti, John Carpenter and Bob Balaban.
Especially noteworthy are featured side stories involving Bill Murray as an alcoholic has-been ventriloquist and a breezy Kay Thompsonish performance by a delightful Vanessa Redgrave as the bohemian-spirited socialite wife of a fictional industrialist portrayed by the prolific Philip Baker Hall.
The coming together of all these tales is the climax of the piece, where the troupe of the ill-fated "The Cradle Will Rock" rally behind Welles, Houseman and Blitzstein to persevere in a show-must-go-on fashion (reminiscent of a popular theme in many musicals of the same time period). Extremely well-staged, this rousing finale captures an exciting yet fairly obscure moment in American musical-theater history and revels in it as a symbol of free expression triumphing over small-minded artistic oppression.
Outstanding technical expertise includes the work of esteemed French cinematographer Jean Yves Escoffier, frequent Altman editor Geraldine Peroni and Robbins' regular production designer, 1999 Tony Award winner Richard Hoover. Production is greatly served by the detailed work of costume designer Ruth Meyers (whose period work in 'L.A. Confidential' also left an impressive mark) and the team of hair and makeup artists headed, respectively, by Kathe Swanson and Linda Grimes.
* MPAA rating: R, for some language and sexuality.
"Cradle Will Rock"
Hank Azaria: Marc Blitzstein Angus MacFadyen: Orson Welles John Cusack: Nelson Rockefeller Cary Elwes: John Houseman Susan Sarandon: Margherita Sarfatti Emily Watson: Olive Stanton Joan Cusack: Hazel Huffman John Turturro: Aldo Silvano
A Buena Vista presentation. Director Tim Robbins. Screenplay Tim Robbins. Producers Tim Robbins, Jon Kilik and Lydia Dean Pilcher. Director of photography Jean Yves Escoffier. Editor Geraldine Peroni. Music David Robbins. Production designer Richard Hoover. Costume designer Ruth Myers. Art directors Troy Sizemore and Peter Rogers. Set decorator Deborah Schutt. Running time: 2 hours, 10 minutes.
Looks like there won't be any more confessions from Mike Myers.
The "Austin Powers" actor has dropped "Confessions of a Dangerous Mind" from the slate of projects he's going to do in order to concentrate on the "Pink Panther" remake and other smaller films, Daily Variety says.
Currently, "Meet the Parents" guy Ben Stiller's name has been thrown around as a possible replacement.
But as the report suggests, Stiller's schedule, jammed pack by his involvement with "Zoolander," "The Royal Tenenbaums" and the "Meet the Parents" sequel among other stuff, might keep him from doing "Confessions."
Since its inception, the comedy , based on the comic memoir of "Gong Show" host Chuck Barris, has attracted the interest from a lot of big-time talents such as George Clooney, Sean Penn and "Fight Club" helmer David Fincher that had all somehow fallen through.
The strange tradition continues with "X-Men" director Bryan Singer, who is attached to do the project but might skip on it pending the progress of his "X-Men" sequel. GRAND 'LARCENY' Bond guy Pierce Brosnan might star in the the comedy "Larceny for Lovers," The Hollywood Reporter says.
The story is about a con artist (Brosnan) who goes to Europe and unwittingly falls in love with a woman who also happens to be a con artist.
TWIN DRAGON: That's what happens when you're in a critically acclaimed film. Director Ang Lee's "Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon" actress Zhang Ziyi has thus far only been seen by a handful of audiences, but the ingenue is already in talks to join Jackie Chan and Chris Tucker in "Rush Hour 2," the sequel to the 1997 megahit, the Reporter says.
And the script has apparently worked it out so that the Chinese actress wouldn't have to worry about the language problem since, if cast, she would play a Chinese-only speaking villain. LADY IN 'BLACK': The Reporter says that Oscar-winning actress Susan Sarandon will star in the drama "Baby's in Black."
Written by "City of Angels" scribe Brad Silberling, the story is about a man mourning the death of his fiancee who was killed when she was waiting tables at a restaurant. Sarandon will play the bereft's mother.
The project is also in talks to have Dustin Hoffman cast as the Sarandon character's husband.
BUSY BEE: And finally, Jennifer Esposito, who you will be able to see in the vampire update "Wes Craven Presents: Dracula 2000," will play a female cop in the Michael Douglas thriller "Don't Say a Word" and a flirtatious maid in the indie flick "Welcome to Collinwood," Variety says.
Arnold Schwarzenegger has settled his $50 million lawsuit against the Globe tabloid over a 1998 story concerning his health, his publicist said Tuesday.
After the 52-year-old Schwarzenegger’s 1997 surgery to repair a heart valve, doctors had said there was no reason the star could not continue his active lifestyle. The Globe printed an article saying he was in ill health and in danger of a heart attack. The Terminator himself then sued the tabloid, alleging that the article defamed him by saying his heart was a "ticking time bomb in his chest" and that he was "living in fear that … his heart will suddenly quit."
The Globe will donate an undisclosed amount of money to Schwarzenegger’s charity, the Inner City Games Foundation, admit the story was wrong and publish a retraction, correction and apology, according to Catherine Olim, the actor’s publicist.
END OF (PLANET HOLLYWOOD) DAYS: While we have your attention, we also bring you word that Arnold Schwarzenegger is out of Planet Hollywood, and he won’t be back.
The action star announced in a statement issued by his publicist Tuesday that he is severing his relationship with the theme restaurant chain now that his five-year contract with the company has expired. His announcement arrives four days after Planet Hollywood recovered from Chapter 11 bankruptcy, and made plans to focus on its current restaurants rather than open new ones. It will also announce new celebrity affiliations in the next few weeks. Schwarzenegger’s spokeswoman said there was no connection between his departure and the announcement.
"Of course, I am disappointed that the company did not continue with the success I had expected and hoped for," Schwarzenegger said. "I wish Planet Hollywood well, but I want to focus my attention now on new U.S. and global business ventures, and on my movie career.''
The other investors ? Sylvester Stallone, Bruce Willis, Demi Moore and Whoopi Goldberg -- remain.
SUDDENLY STALKED?: A Los Angeles man pleaded not guilty Tuesday to stalking Brooke Shields. Mark Bailey, 41, also pleaded not guilty to being a felon in possession of a firearm with its identification numbers filed off.
Prosecutors say Bailey, 41, followed the "Suddenly Susan" star several times between Oct. 21, 1999, and Jan. 10. when he was arrested. The criminal complaint alleged Bailey ``did maliciously and repeatedly follow and harass Brooke Shields and made a credible threat with the intent that she be placed in reasonable fear for her safety and the safety of her immediate family," according to Reuters.
A preliminary hearing was set for Thursday to see if there is enough evidence to try Bailey; no word on if Shields, 34, will be presented as a witness.
TEARFUL TELEVISION: Marie Osmond addressed her marital heartache on her talk show, and the response was an emotional one.
"No outside parties or influences'' prompted her to separate from husband Brian Blosil, a music producer, Osmond said at the beginning of the syndicated "Donny & Marie" show Monday. Osmond and Blosil were married 13 years.
She called the separation ``a very private family issue,'' but said she didn't want to be secretive about it. She fought tears when she spoke of her seven children, and Donny Osmond, her brother and co-host, cried as he told Marie he loves and supports her.
QUICK TAKES: Robert De Niro will receive a lifetime achievement award at the Berlin Film Festival, which takes place Feb. 9-20 and will feature 12 of his films…
… Mike Myers’ chest hair will compete against Eddie Murphy’s wrinkles for the makeup Oscar nomination Feb. 12. Five films -- "Austin Powers: The Spy Who Shagged Me," "Bicentennial Man," "Blast From the Past," "Life" and "Topsy-Turvy" -- will be screened for the makeup award committee, which will either nominate up to three films, recommend one for a Special Achievement award or decide none of them deserve it…
…Globe winner Hilary Swank has just been named ShoWest’s Female Star of Tomorrow. The "Boys Don’t Cry" star joins past winners Nicole Kidman, Cameron Diaz and Winona Ryder…
…Rocker Mick Jagger has applied to the European Union to register his name as a trademark to sell items such as cologne, deodorant, fingernail treatments, footwear and headgear, according to Reuters. Sorry, Mick, but we can’t imagine anyone wanting to buy Jagger Press-On Nails.