Opening in eighth place, James L. Brooks’s comedy How Do You Know, starring Reese Witherspoon, Paul Rudd, Owen Wilson, and Jack Nicholson, collected $7.6m at 2,483 locations. How Do You Know’s average per site was a mere $3,061.
Brooks’ comedy cost a reported $120m. Thus, How Do You Know has become one of the year’s major box-office disasters.
It’s nearly impossible to compare How Do You Know to the performances of Brooks’ early hits Terms of Endearment (1983) and Broadcast News (1987) because distribution patterns were different in those days and movie theaters were different (generally much bigger, i.e., more tickets could be sold per theater) back then as well.
But How Do You Know performed even worse than Brooks’ previous box-office disappointment, Spanglish (2004), which starred Adam Sandler and opened with $8.81m at 2,438 sites. Spanglish cumed at $42.72m.
Meanwhile “How Do You Know” opened at No. 8 with just $7.6 million in the United States and Canada, far short of modest expectations in the $12 million range. The Columbia Pictures project cost about $100 million to make, with half the budget spent on salaries for Witherspoon, co-stars Jack Nicholson, Owen Wilson and Paul Rudd, and writer/director James L. Brooks. Extensive reshoots also drove up costs.
Executives at the Sony Corp unit were despondent about the opening, although the film had suffered bad buzz for some time with no help from a forgettable title.