Eichner still thinks that his film’s unflinching approach to sexuality made it a tough sell in certain markets, but he admits that there’s more to it than just homophobia.
Billy Eichner has a critical darling on his hands with “Bros,” the new romantic comedy boasting an all-gay cast that he co-wrote and stars in. But the film’s box office numbers left a lot to be desired, as it only earned $4.8 million in its opening weekend despite strong reviews following its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. Eichner then made headlines when he attributed the disappointing numbers to homophobia and his belief that “straight people just didn’t show up.”
But as it turns out, the situation is a bit more complicated. Appearing on stage at the New Yorker Festival on Friday night, Eichner spoke more about the film’s box office failure while adding some nuance to his controversial tweet.
“There’s a lot of factors to it,” Eichner said. “To open this movie, in this many theaters, a rom-com in 2022 — there are rom-coms with mega-stars which struggle at the box office, and a lot of the biggest comedy stars are taking their movies to streaming. And for good reason! That seems to be where people want to watch these movies. I still love seeing these movies in the theater.”
While Eichner acknowledged that there were many reasons beyond homophobia that made the film a financial risk, he still emphasized that the subject matter could have been seen as taboo in parts of the country where gay culture is less omnipresent.
“I think this is, for some audiences — not for gay people — but for some audiences, challenging subject matter,” he said. “Universal, to their credit, was very bold in how they framed the movie in trailers; there was a lot of gay sex in the trailers, and some people love that, some people aren’t shocked by that at all, it seem like something they look at every day on their phones —you know — and in some parts of the country, like I said in my very controversial tweet, there literally was a theater chain in the south and in the midwest that called Universal over the summer and said ‘we’re not playing this trailer.’ We live in a divided country in that way, and it depends on where you live.”
While the comedian stands by his original claim that homophobia was a factor in the film’s lackluster box office haul, he also understands that the gay community has bigger battles to fight than getting straight people to see his movie.
“Homophobia is a bigger problem than how it pertains to this silly rom-com,” he said. “But do I think it’s a factor? Yes, in certain parts of the country, I think it was a factor. Though, to be honest, we really didn’t make the movie for homophobes anyway. This is an R-rated gay rom-com. It was never intended as a movie to try to convince people who don’t like gay people that we’re normal, and soft, and cuddly, and okay to love. It’s so not that movie. So it’s complicated, and I honestly find the whole thing to be very silly when you take a bird’s-eye view of it all — it’s just a comedy.”
“Bros” is now playing in theaters.