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.
Marvin Mange (Schneider) works in the evidence room of a small town police station. He has always wanted to become a full-fledged police officer and follow in his father's footsteps only he's too wimpy to pass the physical endurance test. Nothing is looking good for this asthmatic loser until his car goes careening off a cliff. Marvin survives thanks to the cabin-bound Dr. Wilder (Michael Caton) who after having cracked the genetic code patches him back together with various animal organs. With no memory of what has happened to him Marvin goes about his daily life until strange things start to happen. He develops abnormally acute senses and after sniffing out a heroin-filled balloon located in a drug smuggler's butt he becomes a local hero and--best of all--a real cop. His antics get the attention of Rianna (Colleen Haskell) a volunteer at a local animal shelter. A hardcore vegetarian Rianna finds Marvin's ability to catch a Frisbee with his mouth and regurgitate a worm for a motherless baby turkey endearing. But Marvin is quickly losing his battle with his animal self and keeping up appearances becomes increasingly difficult.
It is very difficult not to sympathize with Schneider's character in this film. With his big droopy eyes you almost get the impression that even Schneider feels sorry for Marvin. And even though his lines are not inherently funny and the delivery is slightly blasé his stunts are really rather amusing. He actually looks like a cheetah when he runs and he licks his leg with the genuine elegance of a feline. And you have to respect Schneider for not taking the same route that so many other Saturday Night Live alumnus have stretching a good five minute skit into a disastrous two hour feature film (imagine watching a cinematic version of Richard "The Richmeister" Laymer). As for Haskell (Survivor) though she is incredibly adorable and natural looking she delivers her lines so slowly that she almost sounds childlike. Thank goodness there were not too many multi-syllabic words written into the script for her character Rianna. Bemusing cameo appearances from both Norm Macdonald and Adam Sandler add to the film's climax.
First-time director Luke Greenfield does a great job with the stunts (like Schneider gliding across the water like a circus seal or running inside a man-sized hamster wheel). They'll leave you wondering how they did it. Some props deserve an honorable mention like Marvin's bachelor pad with the garage door doubling as a home entertainment center or Dr. Wilder's barnyard laboratory. But while Schneider's antics will have you laughing they are not enough to carry the entire film. Tom Brady who wrote the screenplay with Schneider has worked on television shows such as The Simpsons and Men Behaving Badly and should have delivered nothing less than solid laugh-a-minute comedy-but didn't. The story leads up to a disappointing conclusion that looks like it was drawn up in 60 seconds. Nonetheless the story is sweet in its own corny sort of way.