Actor Billy Eichner didn’t hold back when he took to Twitter on Sunday to announce the dismal theatrical release of his new comedy Bros.
The Universal film – which is the first gay romantic comedy to be released by a major Hollywood studio – debuted at a dismal $4.8 million after doing little business in much of Central America and the South.
“Anyone who IS NOT a homophobic maniac should go to BROS tonight! You will have a great time! And it’s special and uniquely powerful to see that special story on a big screen, especially for queer people who don’t get that opportunity often. I love this movie so much. GO BROS!!!” Eichner tweeted.
Universal has stayed in the comedy business, even as the genre struggles theatrically and is increasingly becoming a streaming space. The studio’s longtime partners include Bros. producer Judd Apatow and director-writer Nicholas Stoller, who helmed the film.
The studio was praised for taking on the project, and Bros received critical acclaim following its world premiere at the 2022 Toronto Film Festival. It currently boasts a glowing critic rating of 95 percent on Rotten Tomatoes. The audience liked it too and gave it an A CinemaScore.
But the opening was even worse than expected. Heading into the weekend, tracking had suggested it could make between $8 million and $10 million.
“Rolling Stone already has BROS on their list of best comedies of the 21st century,” said Eichner the same twitter thread. “It’s also true that at one point a theater chain called Universal said they were pulling the trailer because of the gay content. (Uni convinced her not to do it). America, fuck yeah, etc etc.”
Bros’ top 10 markets were all in New York, San Francisco, and Los Angeles. It did decent business in a few other major cities, including Chicago. Otherwise it’s been a bust so far.
Eichner himself went to a movie theater in LA on Saturday night. “Last night I snuck in and sat in the back of a sold out theater to play BROS in LA. The audience roared with laughter from start to finish, bursting into applause at the end and some wiping tears as they walked out. It was really magical. For real. I’m VERY proud of this film.” he tweeted.
Bros marks Eichner’s first starring role in a major studio photo. The actor, who has broken through with work on NBC’s Parks and Recreation and the game show Billy on the Street, stars in the film alongside Luc Macfarlane and Harvey Fierstein, among others.
Recently, box office comedies have been hailed by big stars like Ryan Reynolds in Free Guy (20th Century/Disney) or Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum in The Lost City (Paramount). Comedy has many sub-genres, and both films are action-adventure as well.
Universal will soon follow with another rom-com, Ticket to Paradise, starring Julia Roberts and George Clooney. The film opens domestically on October 21, having already raised a solid $45 million overseas.
In terms of salacious fare, Apatow’s recent career path shows how difficult the landscape has become for R-rated comedies like Bros. He directed his latest, The Bubble, for Netflix, although in March he signed an overall deal with Universal that suggested he return to directing theatrical comedy.
When asked about the gay themes, Universal’s president of domestic distribution, Jim Orr, focused on how the studio was “incredibly proud” of the film and the filmmakers.
Eichner summarized the results as follows: “Unfortunately, this is the world we live in. Even with rave reviews, great Rotten Tomatoes scores, an A CinemaScore, etc. straight people, especially in certain parts of the country, just didn’t show up to Bros. And that’s disappointing, but it is what it is.”