Reese and Owen’s ‘How Do You Know’ tanks at the box office, finishes 8th

I was really surprised to hear that the Reese Witherspoon and Owen Wilson comedy How Do You Know finished a very low eighth at the box office on this, its opening weekend. I remember that Reese and Vince Vaughn’s Four Christmases really cleaned up at the box office when it opened around Thanksgiving, 2008, which was surprising because the film was generally considered to be total crap. How Do You Know didn’t fare much better with critics, with a current 35% on Rotten Tomatoes as compared to Christmases 25%. Still, it has Reese, Owen Wilson, Paul Rudd and Jack Nicholson in it. How could it go so wrong? Tron Legacy also opened this weekend, as did that Yogi Bear movie and wide releases of The Fighter and Black Swan, all of which trounced the generally unremarkable romcom How Do You Know. (Update: Narnia: The Voyage of the Dawn Treader, The Tourist and Tangled also outperformed this film.) Here’s more from Radar.


The box office numbers this weekend come with more extremely bad news for A-List stars, is reporting.

How Do You Know, starring Reese Witherspoon, Owen Wilson, Paul Rudd and Jack Nicholson, is one spectacular flop, and will be among the biggest financial disasters for any studio in 2010.

How Do You Know, which cost $120 million to produce with all those big star paychecks, took in just $7.6 million its opening weekend. That’s one huge ouch!

The Tourist, with Johnny Depp and Angelina Jolie, continued its slide after a mediocre opening last week. It finished fifth this weekend, taking in a tepid $8.7 million.

Number one in the box office rally was TRON: Legacy 3 D, with an estimated $43.6 million in ticket sales.

But the real winner, for the third weekend in a row, is Black Swan. The Natalie Portman thriller took in another $8.3 million this weekend in fewer than 1000 theaters. It has already grossed more than the mere $13 million it cost to produce.

[From Radar]

This makes me a little sad! I like romcoms and I love Reese. I would have seen this movie eventually, after The Fighter, Black Swan and Yogi Bear (I have a six year old). I guess that’s the problem. How Do You Know could have done well on a less crowded and less competitive opening weekend. They should have waited until next year to release it. It makes me wonder why they put it out for the holiday season. We have a lot more mindless action movies to look forward to instead of mindless chick flicks. I guess it’s a wash really.

Photos via AllMoviePhoto




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38 Responses to “Reese and Owen’s ‘How Do You Know’ tanks at the box office, finishes 8th”

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  1. mln76 says:

    I actually kind of sort of wanted to see this but I was too swamped this weekend.

  2. krissy says:

    I think this just shows the irrelevance of “star power” You can pack 50 stars into one movie but if it looks stupid, people aren’t going to see it.

  3. Marjalane says:

    You know what the problem is with movies like this? They totally insult our intelligence: And not only that, but when we know all the big stars can do SO much better, and they’re only in it for the big check, and the best they can put forth is the pap they show us in the trailer? No thanks, I’ll hang on to my 10.00, and see it on cable in a few months. Reese Witherspoon has started making a career of crap movies and her likability factor is slipping away.

  4. kat says:

    It actually came in at a weak eighth. The Tourist came in fifth. I’d like to see this eventually… when it comes out on DVD.

  5. nnn says:

    According to Box Office Mojo, it finished 8th not 5th.

    And critics are no indication of financial returns otherwise the likes of Transformers and Twighlight franchises and most Sandler movies wouldn’t drag money in with their usual less than 20 % at the RT.

    Also Denzel last project “Unstoppable” is tanking despite a 86 % at RT.

    A better measure to see if a movie is popular among the viewers is to look at the audience rating at RT.

    Sometimes you will see huge discrepancies between the critics and the audience’s rating, other times it’s uneven.

    Also concerning that movie, i really can’t understand why anyone would produce a rom com at 120 millions. How do they use those resources to reach that amount ?

  6. Celebitchy says:

    Thanks nnn I will update that.

  7. nnn says:

    # 3 Marjalane

    Agree totally.

    I think the problem is mediocrity, especially in that genre. There are no great comedies today like it used to be. I am not a rom com lover to the least but i loved those old comedies where the actress seduce both male and female audiences.

    I mean where are the ‘Working Girl’, ‘When Sally met Harry’ of this era ?

    Even actresses have stopped with that subtle, oh so feminine humour, it’s either gross, either too dumb.

    No wit, no grace. The comedic actress is dead and we are left with an obsolete genre that has committed suicide with all the ambiant mediocrity from the script, to the actors.

  8. eja102 says:

    romcom’s make me itchy.

    I cannot wait to see Tron. I hope it;s as good as the original.

  9. gloaming says:

    I loved Four Christmases!
    Agree it’s just the timing of the release. It’s a shame since they threw so much money at it.
    James L Brooks has made some great movies so I’m still looking forward to this – admittedly not as much as Bieutiful or Black Swan or 127 hours or Tron or……

  10. the_porscha says:

    I think the main problem with this movie is that, after seeing multiple previews, I still can’t tell you what it’s about. I’m all about the random rom-com just for shits and giggles, but at least give me a sliver of plot. I know there’s some sort of vague love triangle happening, BUT they don’t make it seem like it’s the centerpiece of the film… which would be fine, if I knew what WAS the centerpiece. It looks dumber than the average romcom because it seems to involve nothing in the way of story. Even “Leap Year” explained the plot in previews, ffs.

  11. Praise St. Angie! says:

    I’m not at all surprised.

    I saw a TV trailer for it, and was totally confused as to what the movie was about…they gave no indication, all they did was show a few of the “funny” scenes. I had to look it up to see what the plot actually was since the trailer told me nothing.

    and I’m still not interested.

    EDIT: I see the_porscha had the same reaction!

  12. mslewis says:

    CB, the timing of the release of this movie had nothing to do with it bombing. It would have bombed no matter when they released it. The trailer looked stupid and idiotic and nobody, not even diehard romcom fans, wanted to see it. It didn’t even look mildly interesting. And, it received a C- rating in exit polling from the people who did pay to see it. So, no, releasing it at a later date would not have helped.

    What boggles my mind is . . . why in the world would Sony spend $120M on a romcom?? I don’t care who is in this thing, that’s a lot of money for a silly little romcom. Sure, Reese, Owen and Nicholson were paid big bucks but Paul Rudd is not A-List and they didn’t travel to exotic locations. I just don’t understand what they spent all that money on.

    And another thing: The Tourist has a chance to make some money in the foreign market but I don’t see Reece’s movie doing well overseas and that makes it far more of a bomb. (Not that there is a contest or anything!!!)

  13. Sunnyjyl says:

    I saw it yesterday. I hadn’t heard anything about it. I went with a doctor and a writer. I’m a teacher. We thought the dialogue was smart and funny. All of us laughed heartily throughout. So I don’t get the comments about the movie being an insult to anyone’s intelligence. It also looked like the actors probably had fun making it.
    However, there weren’t many people in the theater. They were all going to see Tron and Narnia.

  14. Kow says:


    I don’t know how you can call Unstoppable a flop. So far It’s made 77 million domestically and 132 million total.

  15. nnn says:

    Yes but it costs 100 millions that’s why i call it a flop or underperformance, since according experts, you need to double the production cost to break even and i don’t see it reaching 200 millions, especially because of the counterperformance in the foreign market.

  16. Kow says:

    I don’t know about all that but it was expected to take in about the same as Pelham 123 – which it exceeded, and when compared to comparable movies, it did better than almost all.

  17. lucy2 says:

    Not surprised – poor marketing and a generic title, huge competition, plus lackluster reviews, do not make for a good opening.
    I CANNOT believe the budget!!! It should have been a $30-40 million production at MOST. Time to stop paying stars $$$$ for a non-franchise film, star power is not putting butts in the seats anymore.

    I like Reese and Paul Rudd a lot, but I felt no urgency to go see this at the theater, not when there’s so much good competition.

  18. Cheyenne says:

    nnn: According to boxofficemojo, Unstoppable cost $100 million to make. So far it has made $77 million domestically and $132 million overseas, which is $209 total, which is double its production budget. The movie hasn’t tanked.

    But this should show everybody once and for all that the real market for movies is overseas. That’s where all the money is.

    I was surprised to learn that Tourist has made over $50 mil so far despite abysmal reviews and quotes coming in from only four overseas countries. It hasn’t opened in most of its foreign markets yet.

    As for Witherspoon’s movie, mslewis called it right. $120 mil for a rom-com is off the wall.

    Yogi Bear could bomb big time. Reviews are godawful.

  19. nnn says:

    # Cheyenne

    You are wrong 132 millions is the WORLDWIDE figures including both domestic and foreign in Box Office. You can check it yourself.

    Here are the figures of “Unstoppable” after 38 days

    Domestic: $77,343,000
    + Foreign: $54,945,479
    = Worldwide: $132,288,479

    Cost production : 100 millions

  20. Steph says:

    I agree with Sunnyjyl. I had seen the previews, but as others mentioned wasn’t really sure what it was totally about. It was my birthday weekend so my hubs took me to see the newest chick flick and we both loved it! I didn’t mind not really know the story/plot ahead of time. We both laughed and enjoyed it. I didn’t feel like we wasted our matinee price tickets at all. My hubs even mentioned that he liked it better than normal romcoms because it didn’t have the same overly used plot line.

  21. serena says:

    All of the movies are doing bad.
    what the hell is happening..

  22. Cheyenne says:

    @nnn: Whoops! my bad. You are correct; $132 is the total worldwide gross (so far). It could reach $200 mil once the DVD comes out and the movie is sold to cable TV.

    @serena: Unless it’s a movie I want to see in IMAX or really want to see on the screen (and those are few and far between), I’m not spending $15 to see a movie that I can see free on my TV six months to a year later. Going to the movies is just too damn expensive.

  23. Ally says:

    I can’t stand James L. Brooks movies. On the surface they seem to be humanist in tone — everyone overcoming life’s difficulties through togetherness — but underneath they’re all misanthropy — everyone being hateful and saying snide things and behaving horribly to each other with no consequences.

  24. Seeer says:

    Reese needs to stretch herself more, the slew of romcoms is getting really boring. She’s ‘Walk the Line’ what else has she done of note? And now there’s another romcom on the horizon with ‘This Means War’. It’s just same old same old with her these days and I think audiences are getting tired of it. She needs to start picking her scripts a bit more carefully and be more choosy, just leave the romcoms to the Jennifer Anistons of this world.

  25. PrimeO says:

    I’m not sure if I’ll get to the theater to see this but I hope it picks up and does better than it is now. I live everyone in it…

    I also liked Four Christmases…

  26. Roxanne75 says:

    I really wanted to see this movie…I know I will just never on an opening weekend–I usually wait.

  27. Dizzybenny says:

    Unless someone comes up with an incredible story the rom-com is on life support.the last one i liked was Date Night.Now for my new year resulotion for 2011 is to boycott all 3D movies.So far i’ve seen 3 3D movies and i’m not impressed.They are not worth the x-tra 3$(in my region).Eventho i saw Tron when it came out in 1980 i will wait for the dvd before watching it.Same thing applies for Thor,Green Hornet,Pirates 4 that are coming up in 2011.

  28. Kim says:

    I think it’s just the times with less adults going out to movies. I wonder how one of my favorites “When Harry Met Sally” would perform in 2010.

  29. lucy2 says:

    I read somewhere that the box office is still higher than last year, which was a good year too, so people are still going to the movies.
    The smaller films seem to be doing well, and don’t need to make $300 million just to turn a profit. With a number of these big budget films bombing, I’m guessing we’re going to see fewer $100+ budgets and big star paydays, unless they’re animated or part of a big franchise.

  30. nnn says:

    Agreed with Lucy2.

    I think, generally speaking, studios should rethink their financial policies and opt for more reasonable production costs to do a movie.

  31. Bee says:

    I think the box office was bigger this year because of the increase in regular ticket prices, and the higher price of 3D tickets. I believe actual movie attendance was down. The star system is dying a slow death and I’m thrilled about that. It leaves room for new talent to emerge. I remember a time when almost every movie starred Tom Cruise, Julia Roberts, or Tom Hanks. I like Reese and Paul Rudd, but this just proves you need more than stars to get people to see a movie nowadays.

  32. Mia135 says:

    The title of the film alone would put me off from seeing it. That has got to be the stupidest, most unoriginal name for a movie ever.

  33. The Bobster says:

    Trounced by three kids’ movies! How humiliating is that?

  34. Bethany says:

    Okay, it’s Sat. I’m out with 3 friends doing some last minute HECTIC shopping. Finally time for a breather. Do girls want: House Salad w/shrimp, tacos, churros & drinks OR let’s pay 12 bucks to sit through How Do You Know??

    People need to tell Angelina Jolie, Reese Witherspoon, and all the other Sweethearts that America’s eating — and paying for things with cash this year! Better step it up.

  35. Sunnyjyl says:

    LOL@Bethany. My gal pals and I ALWAYS vote Happy Hour over movie.

  36. lin234 says:

    Never even heard of it. But on a bright side, Reese has never looked better.

  37. MooHoo says:

    I totally agree with everyone saying that the comedies being dished out are totally mediocre rubbish. Even that one last year with Sandra Bullock was not that great – lets be honest. Everyone said it was so good, but really, they were just comparing it to all the bad comedies that are being made right now. The Hangover – totally overrated. Sorry. And offputting that every second word was fxxx. Overuse of that word does not a comedy make. looking back at comedies, the last great ones were from the early part of the last decade. four weddings, bridget jones, and then going back to the great days of the eighties, trains planes, home alone, working girl, groundhog day. funny, intelligent, great stories. Please someone, start making comedies that really do work and that challenge the audience and dont treat them like idiots.