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ALABAMA SWEET AT BOX OFFICE
Reese Witherspoon Vehicle Drives to # 1 With $37.5 Million

Reese Witherspoon is the real deal.

The actress’ Dixieland comedy, Sweet Home Alabama, collected $37.5 million to easily debut as the weekend's No. 1 movie.

Two-week champ Barbershop fell to third place behind the $15.1 million opening of Jackie Chan’s The Tuxedo.

Barbershop, a comedy-drama about a black neighborhood in Chicago whose residents make the local haircutting salon an unofficial country club, earned $10.1 million in its third week, a 21% drop from the week before. The Ice Cube film, which cost about $12 million to make, has collected a total of $51.4 million.

Another low-budget hit, My Big Fat Greek Wedding, came in fourth with $9.8 million, holding steady from last week. The $5 million film grew into a sleeper hit through word-of-mouth and has collected nearly $136.9 million over 24 weeks.

Sweet Home Alabama benefited from the appeal of Legally Blonde star Witherspoon, although critics generally sneered at its story about a newly engaged New York fashion designer who returns to her Southern hometown to finalize her divorce from a man she considers a hayseed.

The movie, which takes its name from the Lynyrd Skynyrd rock song, broke the record for the highest debut of a movie in September, traditionally a lackluster time for new releases. The previous record-holder was the original Rush Hour, which debuted in 1998 with $33 million.

The Banger Sisters rounded out the top five with $5.4 million.

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