After a string of flops MGM had some long overdue good news this weekend as Barbershop cut through the competition to open top of the charts on $21m, according to studio estimates released on Sunday. The situational comedy stars Ice Cube as the patron of the eponymous salon and received enthusiastic reviews, averaging a snippy $13,084 from 1,605 theatres. It was directed by first-timer Tim Story. MGM''s specialised division United Artists also enjoyed a successful limited opening for the rites-of-passage comedy Igby Goes Down, which took $319,000 to average $31,918 from 10 venues. Igby Goes Down stars Kieran Culkin, Jeff Goldblum, Claire Danes, Amanda Peet, Bill Pullman, Ryan Philippe and Susan Sarandon and marks the directorial debut of Burr Steers. The studio now has two promising preludes before the guaranteed blockbuster opening in November of the 20th James Bond instalment, Die Another Day.

Holding firm in second place was the ultimate slowburner, IFC's My Big Fat Greek Wedding. In its 22nd week the comedy became the 15th film to pass $100m this year and took a mighty $11m for a cumulative score of $110.7m. My Big Fat Greek Wedding expanded 69 sites to 1,764 and averaged $6,254. The only other opener to make the top ten was Revolution Studios' comedy Stealing Harvard starring Tom Green and Jason Lee, about a man who turns to crime in order to finance his niece's way through college. The critics hated it and audiences were none too enamoured either, as it placed fourth on $6.3m and averaged $2,663 from 2,366 venues.

Fox Searchlight's One Hour Photo took advantage of a relative lull before next weekend's raft of potential hits. In its fourth week the Robin Williams thriller expanded to 1,212 theatres and took $7.7m for a $14.2m running total. Swimfan, the Fox teen thriller that opened top of the charts last week, slipped four places to fifth, grossing just over $6m for a $19.7m cumulative score. Disney's Signs fell two places to sixth on $5.3m for a $212.9m running total.

Overall the combined box office for the top 12 movies was $72m, up 38% on the same period last year and marked the first such rise in more than two months. Next weekend's releases herald the start of the autumn session proper with Heath Ledger, Wes Bentley and Kate Hudson in the Paramount epic The Four Feathers; Warner Bros's spy action picture Ballistic: Ecks Vs Sever starring Antonio Banderas and Lucy Liu; and the anime classic Spirited Away, which was written and directed by Hayao Miyazaki and is the all-time number one movie at the Japanese box office with $229m. Buena Vista is handling domestic distribution rights.

Estimated Top Ten Sept 13-15, 2002

Film (Distributor)/International distribution/Estimated weekend gross/Estimated total to date

1 (-) Barbershop (MGM) 20th Century Fox $21m --

2 (2) My Big Fat Greek Wedding (IFC) Vortex Pictures $11.03m $110.7m

3 (13) One Hour Photo (Fox Searchlight) Fox $7.68m $14.24m

4 (-) Stealing Harvard (Columbia) Columbia TriStar/Revolution $6.3m --

5 (1) Swimfan (20th Century Fox) Cobalt Media $6.07m $19.7m

6 (4) Signs (Buena Vista) BVI $5.3m $212.9m

7 (3) City By The Sea (Warner Bros) Franchise Pictures $4.78m $16.57m

8 (5) XXX (Columbia) Columbia TriStar/Revolution $3.3m $135.4m

9 (6) Spy Kids 2: The Island Of Lost Dreams (Miramax) Miramax International $2.4m $77.05m

10 (7) Austin Powers In Goldmember (New Line) New Line International $1.8m $209.58m