Only four films during this time period earned less than $10 million on their opening weekends. One only reached 216 screens ('The Importance of Being Earnest'), two did alright money for a modest number of screens ('Penelope' and 'Vanity Fair') and one ('Rendition') never had a chance because it slipped in during the Iraq War/terrorist genre slump. Otherwise, Witherspoon's name has been a pretty solid audience grabber, especially when it comes to romantic comedies. 'Legally Blonde' kicked things off with almost $100 million, and 'Sweet Home Alabama' and 'Four Christmases' also rang in the triple digits.
But 'How Do You Know' hit screens this weekend, and though it was expected to bring in upwards of $13 million, it only earned a measly $7.6 million.
'How Do You Know' boasted a lot of talent, including the increasingly successful Paul Rudd and Owen Wilson. It's also a reunion of sorts for writer/director James L. Brooks and supporting star Jack Nicholson. The last time they worked together, it was the multiple Oscar nominee and winner 'As Good As it Gets.' Between Oscar talent and notable men of comedy, the flick seemed like a pretty sure bet -- especially for those eager to see Rudd and Witherspoon reunite after the quirky and undervalued '90s comedy, 'Overnight Delivery.'
On the flip side, 'How Do You Know' didn't have stellar reviews. It earned a number of negative reactions -- including a thumbs down from our Jenni Miller -- but that can't really be to blame. The film currently has a 35% fresh rating, but Witherspoon's last hit, 'Four Christmases' brought in over $30 million on its opening weekend with a paltry 25% fresh. When it comes to romcoms, the crappiest often bring in top dollar.
Were folks just turned off by the thought of a female protagonist whining about being old when she's not even thirty? (From the film's summary:"Feeling a bit past her prime at 27...") Or are there a horde of romcom lovers who are grammar sticklers that loathe the question mark-free title?
Usually Witherspoon's star power can rise above it all, but why not this time? There's nothing really offensive and off-putting in the trailers; it looks in line with many of her other romcoms. Did everyone really just choose to see -- egads -- 'Yogi Bear' instead? (It made over double Witherspoon's offering.) 'Black Swan' made more on less than half the screens, and chances are, 'Tron's' first-place showing didn't pull away hordes of Reese Witherspoon fanatics.
It simply seems as if her star is fading, which certainly doesn't bode well for the upcoming 'Water for Elephants.' If Rudd + Witherspoon can't bring 'em into the theater, RPatt + Witherspoon probably won't either.
What can she do to reinvigorate her box office take? Take on more musical dramas like 'Walk the Line'? Keep herself more in the cinematic spotlight? Offer up your thoughts below.