Actor Billy Eichner took to Twitter on Sunday to comment on the dismal box office opening of his new comedy, Brothers.
The Universal film – which marks the first gay romantic comedy released by a major Hollywood studio – debuted to $4.8million after doing little business in much of Central and South America.
“Anyone who IS NOT a homophobic weirdo should go see BROS tonight! You’re in for a treat! And it’s special and especially powerful to see this particular story on the big screen, especially for queer people who don’t have not often get this opportunity. I really like this movie. GO BROS!!!,” tweeted Eichner.
Universal has remained in the comedy business, even as the genre struggles theatrically and increasingly becomes the purview of streaming. Long-time partner studios include Brothers producer Judd Apatow and director-screenwriter Nicholas Stoller, who helmed the film.
The studio was praised for taking on the project and Brothers was critically acclaimed after its world premiere at the 2022 Toronto Film Festival. It currently enjoys a 95% critics score on Rotten Tomatoes. Audiences also loved it, awarding it an A CinemaScore.
Still, the opening was even worse than expected. Heading into the weekend, the tracker had suggested he could earn between $8 million and $10 million.
“Rolling Stone already has BROS on the list of the best comedies of the 21st century,” Eichner said in the same twitter thread. “What’s also true is that at one point a movie chain called Universal said they were pulling the trailer because of the gay content. (Uni convinced them not to) America, fuck yeah, etc etc.
Brothers‘The top 10 markets were all in New York, San Francisco and Los Angeles. It did decent business in several other major cities, including Chicago. Otherwise, it’s been a bust so far.
Eichner himself went to a Los Angeles movie theater 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, burst into applause at the end and some wiped away tears as they walked out. It was truly magical. Really. I’m VERY proud of this movie,” he tweeted.
Brothers marks Eichner’s first starring role in a major studio picture. The actor, who broke with the job in NBC’s Parks and recreation and the game show Billy in the streetstars in the film alongside Luke Macfarlane and Harvey Fierstein, among others.
Lately, comedies that have been doing well at the box office have been backed by a big star, like Ryan Reynolds in free guy (20th century/Disney) or Sandra Bullock and Channing Tatum in The lost city (primordial). Comedy has many subgenres, and both of these movies are also action-adventure.
Universal will follow soon with another rom-com, ticket to paradise, starring Julia Roberts and George Clooney. The film opens domestically on October 21 after already raising $45 million overseas.
In terms of more raunchy fare, Apatow’s recent career trajectory shows just how tough the landscape has become for R-rated comedies, such as Brothers. He made his most recent, The bubblefor Netflix, although in March he signed an overall deal with Universal, suggesting he would return to directing comedies.
Asked about the gay themes, Universal’s National Distribution President Jim Orr noted how the studio was “incredibly proud” of the film and the filmmakers.
As for Eichner, he summarizes his results thus: “It’s just the world we live in, unfortunately. Even with rave reviews, great scores for Rotten Tomatoes, an A CinemaScore, and more, straight guys, especially in some parts of the country, just haven’t shown up for Bros. And it’s disappointing, but that’s the way it is.