The Banger Sisters opened with a bang in second place with $10.3 million.
My Big Fat Greek Wedding was a fat third with $10 million and a $124 million cume heading for $150 million.
Trapped, the weekend's other wide opening, placed tenth with a subdued $3.2 million.
Even with no huge openings, key films soared 41.5 percent over last year -- $75 million versus $53 million. The comparison is misleading, however, since ticket sales a year earlier were depressed in the wake of 9/11.
THE TOP TEN
MGM's PG-13 rated urban appeal comedy Barbershop held on to the top spot in its second week with a solid ESTIMATED $13.3 million (-36%) at 1,894 theaters (+289 theaters; $7,022 per theater). Its cume is approximately $38.9 million.
Barbershop's average per theater was the highest for any film playing in wide release this weekend.
Focusing on the low budget Barbershop's good hold, a competing studio marketing president said the picture is clearly attracting mainstream moviegoers as well as its urban core audience. "What that says to me," he observed, "is that it's crossing over to young males -- not African-Americans, but just young males. You can't hold like that without that."
Fox Searchlight Pictures' R rated low budget comedy The Banger Sisters opened in second place to a sexy ESTIMATED $10.3 million at 2,736 theaters ($3,763 per theater).
"We're very, very pleased," Fox Searchlight distribution president Stephen Gilula said Sunday morning. "Essentially, we more than grossed our production budget on opening weekend. For a film that's had a pretty narrow but very targeted audience to end up number two for the weekend, we're just thrilled."
Banger's launch, Gilula added, "is also a record for Searchlight. It's the biggest opening in Searchlight history. (The previous biggest) was a week ago with the $8 million for One Hour Photo. So two weeks in a row we set and broke our own records."
Asked if Searchlight will go any wider with Banger, Gilula replied, "I think we're as wide as we need to be. In fact, that's wider than we had intended. But the demand for the film was so high after we screened it for exhibitors that we went up to 2,700 (plus theaters).
"Originally, we thought we'd be in 2,300 to 2,500. But partly because (there are so) few films in the marketplace toward the end of the summer we had a lot of demand, so we went up that high. So we won't be adding theaters." IFC Films' release of Gold Circle Films and HBO's PG rated romantic comedy blockbuster My Big Fat Greek Wedding was a close third, down one peg in its 23rd week with a still enviable ESTIMATED $10.01 million (-7%) at 1,853 theaters (+89 theaters; $4,501 per theater). Its cume is approximately $124.3 million, heading for $160 million in domestic theaters.
Franchise Films' R rated action thriller Ballistic: Ecks vs. Sever arrived via Warner Bros. in a fourth place tie with a soft ESTIMATED $7.11 million at 2,705 theaters ($2,628 per theater).
Ballistic, whose roots are in a popular video game, reportedly had a production budget of about $70 million.
Paramount and Miramax's PG-13 rated very expensive romantic epic The Four Feathers opened in a tie for fourth place with an uneventful ESTIMATED $7.1 million at 1,912 theaters ($3,713 per theater).
"It's disappointing, but I just got the exit polls and it played pretty well," Paramount distribution president Wayne Lewellen said Sunday morning. "The top two boxes are 74 percent excellent and very good and 22 percent are good. So it's all positive. There is virtually no fair or poor."
The exits indicate, Lewellen added, the audience opening weekend was "roughly 50-50 male-female. The audience was a little over 70 percent over-25, so it's definitely an older audience. Women scored it higher than men in their definite recommends. Any time you've got a film that appeals to an older audience, it's tough to get them out there quickly."
Paramount will add about 300 more theaters in smaller markets to Feathers' run this week as a second wave that it hopes will benefit from favorable word of mouth spreading.
Fox Searchlight Pictures' R rated low budget thriller One Hour Photo slid three clicks to sixth place in its fifth week, still in the picture with an okay ESTIMATED $4.73 million (-41%) at 1,332 theaters (+120 theaters; $3,547 per theater). Its cume is approximately $21.8 million.
"One Hour Photo had a fabulous fifth week," Fox Searchlight's Stephen Gilula said. "This is just terrific. With four new movies coming into the marketplace in our fifth week, it's an excellent hold. In particular, for the screen average to be holding this high in the fifth week is terrific. We think we're going to get to $30 million or better for this film, which is tremendous. This (had a budget) of around $12 million, so this is a tremendous success for us. "If it gets to $30 million, it (will become) the second biggest film in the U.S. for Searchlight since The Full Monty, so we're thrilled with that. Full Monty did $45 million."
Gilula also pointed out that Searchlight has The Good Girl in the marketplace, which has a cume of $12.8 million in its seventh week. "What's interesting is that on the three films (Banger, Photo and Girl) we had a total of 4,600 theaters across the country playing our movies this weekend, which is also a Searchlight record."
Buena Vista/Touchstone's PG-13 rated supernatural thriller blockbuster Signs, which was sixth last weekend, tied for seventh place in its eighth week with a calm ESTIMATED $3.5 million (-34%) at 2,338 theaters (-713 theaters; $1,497 per theater). Its cume is approximately $218.0 million, heading for $225 million.
Revolution Studios and Columbia's low budget PG-13 teen comedy Stealing Harvard, which was fifth last week, tied for seventh place in its second week with a slow ESTIMATED $3.5 million (-42%) at 2,366 theaters (theater count unchanged; $1,479 per theater). Its cume is approximately $10.8 million.
20th Century Fox's PG-13 thriller Swimfan, which was fourth last week, was a very close ninth in its third week with an ESTIMATED $3.45 million (-43%) at 2,573 theaters (-287 theaters; $1,341 per theater). Its cume is approximately $24.4 million.
Rounding out the Top Ten was the opening of Senator Entertainment's R rated child kidnapping thriller Trapped via Columbia with a not so thrilling ESTIMATED $3.2 million at 2,227 theaters ($1,437 per theater).
"This was a domestic pick up. It was a film financed by Senator and we acquired domestic (rights) for a little less than $10 million," Sony Pictures Entertainment worldwide marketing & distribution president Jeff Blake said Sunday morning.
"So while we're certainly disappointed in the results, it's certainly not a high exposure picture for us."
This weekend also saw the arrival of Buena Vista/ Disney's PG rated animated feature Spirited Away to a high spirited ESTIMATED $0.45 million at 26 theaters ($17,313 per theater).
Lions Gate Films' R rated kinky romance Secretary opened to a slap happy ESTIMATED $0.19 million at 11 theaters ($17,273 per theater).
"We open an additional 10 markets next week with more expansions on Oct. 4 and 11 coming up," Lions Gate president Tom Ortenberg said Sunday morning.
"I think it went great. We had sell-outs on both coasts. Our grosses were only held down by the number of seats. There seems to be great demand for it. The movie seems really well positioned. It got really well reviewed and people seem to be talking about it. So we're thrilled."
Focus Features' R rated French comedic whodunit 8 Women arrived to a glamorous ESTIMATED $87,000 at 7 theaters ($10,926 per theater).
There were no national sneak previews this weekend.
On the expansion front this weekend United Artists' R rated dark comedy Igby Goes Down widened in its second week with an upbeat ESTIMATED $0.84 million at 102 theaters (+92 theaters; $8,212 per theater). Its cume is approximately $1.3 million.
Paramount Classics' PG rated German romantic comedy Mostly Martha went wider in its sixth week with a dull ESTIMATED $0.3 million (-12%) at 131 theaters (+30 theaters; $2,555 per theater). Its cume is approximately $2.2 million.
Key films -- those grossing more than $500,000 -- took in approximately $75.05 million for the weekend, up about 41.54 percent from last year when in the wake of 9/11 they totaled a depressed $53.02 million.
Key films were down about 3.47 percent from the previous weekend this year when they totaled $77.74 million. Last year, Paramount's second week of Hardball was first with $8.06 million at 2,210 theaters ($3,646 per theater); and Dimension's opening week of The Others was second with $5.08 million at 2,801 theaters ($1,815 per theater). The top two films one year ago grossed $13.2 million. This year, the top two films grossed an ESTIMATED $23.6 million.