‘Bros’ star Billy Eichner blames box office flop on ‘straight people’

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‘That’s just the world we live in, unfortunately,’ the Bros writer-star tweeted after the film fizzled on its opening weekend

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Bros star Billy Eichner is sounding off on the gay rom-com’s poor box office blaming “straight people” not showing up for the lack of ticket sales.

“Even with glowing reviews, great Rotten Tomatoes scores, an A CinemaScore etc, straight people, especially in certain parts of the country, just didn’t show up for Bros,” Eichner —  who wrote, produced and stars in the film — said in a lengthy Twitter rant. “And that’s disappointing but it is what it is.”

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Despite being embraced by critics and audiences, Bros, which cost $22 million to produce, flopped with moviegoers, grossing a meager $4.8 million at the North American box office this weekend.

But it might have been less about homophobia and more that comedy is a tough sell in Hollywood right now, says Jeff Bock, an analyst with Exhibitor Relations.

“With big names like Adam Sandler, Kevin Hart, Eddie Murphy, Melissa McCarthy and even Ryan Reynolds lending out their talents to streamers, the theatrical marketplace for comedies has cratered,” Bock tells the Toronto Sun. “I think anytime a studio releases a comedy — regardless of content — aimed for a very specific demographic, they’ve limited their box office potential. That’s true of any genre, really, but especially applies to Bros. Comedies that work in theatres are action/comedy hybrids — like Jumanji, Sonic the Hedgehog and Bad Boys For Life … The small studio comedy may become a thing of the past — at least for now.”

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But Eichner, 44, said that the film has been a consistent crowd-pleaser following its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival last month.

Luke McFarlane and Billy Eichner star in Bros.
Luke McFarlane and Billy Eichner star in Bros. Photo by Universal Pictures

“Last night I snuck in and sat in the back of a sold out theater playing Bros in LA. The audience howled with laughter start to finish, burst into applause at the end and some were wiping away tears as they walked out,” Eichner wrote. “It was truly magical. Really. I am VERY proud of this movie.”

Eichner continued by encouraging “everyone who isn’t a homophobic weirdo” to see Bros, writing that it remains “special and uniquely powerful to see this particular story on a big screen.”

In the lead-up to its release, Bros was billed as the first gay rom-com from a major studio, and the first studio film of any genre both written by and starring an openly gay man with a cast that was almost entirely LGBTQ.

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“The history of it is thrilling. It really is a monumental moment,” Eichner said in an interview with the Associated Press. “For gay men, especially, the romance of our lives is just nowhere to be found. There’s a lot to be cynical about in the world. But I think this is an opportunity for people to stop and say: Let’s take love stories and great comedies about life and the human condition as seriously as we take stories about a man dressed up as a bat saving Gotham City.”

Later, when revisiting his Billy on the Street persona to promote the movie with Paul Rudd, he exclaimed, “I’ve been working 20 years for this! I need a straight person to go see Bros!’”

But Eichner knew he was facing an uphill battle to ensure the film’s success. “At one point a theatre chain called Universal and said they were pulling the trailer because of gay content,” Eichner revealed in his Twitter thread. “That’s just the world we live in, unfortunately.”

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