Billy Eichner further addressed the box office performance of Bros after his disappointing opening weekend and his controversial Twitter response.
Speaking at the New Yorker Festival in Chelsea on Friday, alongside Harvey Fierstein, who makes a brief appearance in the film, Eichner was asked whether he believes homophobia was the factor that kept audience members away. During the film’s opening weekend, Bros brought in just $4.8 million, and Eichner sent a now-deleted tweet in which he referenced homophobia and the fact that some movie theaters refused to even play the trailer. In the tweet, he also encouraged “Everyone who ISN’T a homophobic weirdo” to see the film.
“Homophobia is a bigger problem than as it pertains to this silly rom-com we made, you know what I mean? But do I think it’s a factor? Yes. I think in certain parts of the country, it probably was a factor,” Eichner said Friday.
However, he said it was one of many reasons, which included giving a romantic comedy a theatrical release, rather than going straight to streaming.
“There’s a lot of factors to it. 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. I grew up going to see all these romantic comedies at the movie theater with my parents.”
He added, “It was a bold swing to open this movie in this many movie theaters without big movie stars.”
The marketing was another factor, with Fierstein and Eichner agreeing that promoting the historic nature of the film, as the first gay romantic comedy released by a major Hollywood studio, may have hurt them since it put pressure on an audience.
“I think sometimes you have to let the audience find you,” Fierstein said.
However, Eichner said Universal also released purely comedic trailers, in addition to historic messaging, and that he believes there wasn’t “much of a blueprint” for the studio to follow, given the rarity of this kind of film.
“I think what we were doing is trying to find every which way to try to motivate people because the odds were so stacked against us for so many reasons,” Eichner said.
As for how this week has been for Eichner, whose string of tweets inspired many online comments and articles, the star said he remains proud of the film, which he still believes will find a bigger audience.
“It’s just funny, you know, life is absurd. It’s just a rom-com,” he said. “We wanted to make a Nora Ephron movie about horny gay guys, and it’s inspired a lot of thinkpieces and op-eds. I didn’t know people were so interested in me.”
Adding, “I love the movie, and I just hope more and more people keep discovering it.”