Bros: Billy Eichner Decries Homophobia After Dismal Opening

Actor Billy Eichner didn’t hold back when taking to twitter on Sunday to comment on the dismal box office opening of his new comedy, Bros.

The Universal film marks the first gay romantic comedy released by a major Hollywood studio.  But it debuted to dismal $4.8 million after doing little business in middle America and the south.

“Everyone who ISN’T homophobic weirdo should go see BROS tonight! You will have a blast! And it is special and uniquely powerful to see this particular story on a big screen, esp for queer folks who don’t get this opportunity often. I love this movie so much. GO BROS!!!,” tweeted Eichner.

Universal has stayed in the comedy business, even as the genre struggles theatrically. Among the studios partners are Bros producer Judd Apatow and director-writer Nicholas Stoller, who helmed the film.

The studio was lauded for taking on the project and Bros was embraced by critics following its world premiere at the 2022 Toronto Film Fest. It presently boasts a glowing 95 percent critics’ score on Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences also liked it, giving it an A CinemaScore.

Yet the opening was much worse than expected. Heading into the weekend, tracking suggested it could earn between $8 million to $10 million.

“Rolling Stone already has BROS on the list of the best comedies of the 21st century,” Eichner said. “What’s also true is that at one point a theater chain called Universal and said they were pulling the trailer because of the gay content. (Uni convinced them not to). America, fuck yeah, etc etc.”

The film’s top 10 markets were all in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. It did decent business in several other major cities, including Chicago.

Eichner went to an L.A. cinema on Saturday night. “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. It was truly magical. Really. I am VERY proud of this movie,” he tweeted.

Bros marks Eichner’s fist lead role in a major studio pic. The actor, who broke out with work in NBC’s Parks and Recreation and the game show Billy on the Street, stars in the film opposite Luc Macfarlane and Harvey Firestone, among others.

Comedies that have worked at the box office have been upheld by major star power, such as Ryan Reynolds in Free Guy (20th Century/Disney) or Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum in The Lost City (Paramount).  Both of those films are also action-adventure.

Universal will follow quickly with another rom-com, Ticket to Paradise, starring Julia Roberts and George Clooney. The movie opens domestically on October 21 after already amassing a solid $45 million overseas.

Apatow’s recent career trajectory points to how tough the landscape has become for R-rated comedies, such as Bros. He directed The Bubble for Netflix, though in March he inked an overall deal with Universal, suggesting he will return to helming theatrical comedies.

Universal president of domestic distribution Jim Orr declined to comment Sunday on how much the gay theme impacted Bros, but he said the studio “was incredibly proud of the film and the filmmakers.”

Eichner noted “That’s just the world we live in, unfortunately. 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. And that’s disappointing, but it is what it is.”