Billy Eichner’s Bros Director Speaks Out After The Actor Claimed Homophobia Caused The Movie To Flop

billy eichner in bros
(Image credit: Universal Pictures)

Bros – the new queer romantic comedy starring Billy Eichner – has stirred up a lot of conversation over the past week. Last weekend, Eichner’s movie underperformed at the box office during its debut, leading the actor to share some thoughts on social media. Eichner expressed disappointment in the $4.8 million haul and went on to claim that homophobia factored into things and that straight people did not see the movie. Since then, a number of people have shared varying opinions on the star’s assertion. Now, director Nicholas Stoller is weighing in on his leading man’s polarizing tweets. 

When taking to Twitter to share his thoughts, Billy Eichner specifically opined that “straight people, especially in certain parts of the country, just didn’t show up for Bros.” This is one of the major points that’s been debated amongst box office analysts, critics and the general public alike during the past several days. Nicholas Stoller didn’t shy away from addressing the matter during a lengthy interview with The Hollywood Reporter. Per Stoller, Eichner “said the truth,” as the the viewership data they received matched the actor’s assessment: 

[As for his recent tweet], he said the truth. We got the data back. Gay men are the only people who saw the movie. It’s not like he said something that was a lie or incorrect. I think the industry has trained people to not go to the theaters for comedy. But I also think people saw it and thought, ‘That story’s not my story. Why would I go see that?’ And they will slowly discover it because that’s what’s happened with most of the movies I’ve directed, with the exception of Neighbors, is people discover it as it gets out in the world. I think a lot of people are still afraid to go to theaters and a lot of people will get it on streaming.

There’s been a considerable amount of discussion regarding the theatrical viability of comedies in recent years. Many have seen miniscule returns compared to the sizable numbers they brought in decades ago. And per his comments, Nicholas Stoller believes this trend – and the ongoing effects of the COVID-19 pandemic – contributed to the movie’s low returns. Later in the interview, Stoller doubled down on his sentiments while also making an assumption regarding the film’s long-term viewership: 

What Billy said was not incorrect based on the data we got — it was a Neighbors-style hit among gay men. (Laughs.) But we thought it would have bigger reach than that, based purely on the testing. It tested highest among women. It did not test highest among gay men. It tested high among everyone, first of all. I don’t know. (Laughs.) It’s very confusing and a bummer. And putting aside this movie, it’s a bummer just for telling stories. It will be one of those things where people discover it on PVOD and streaming. But it’s so fun to watch this kind of movie in a movie theater.

There are several factors that have been discussed in relation to the movie’s poor showing in its opening weekend, which was dominated by Smile. Some pundits have analyzed the star power of the cast, which (in a landmark first) is made up of all LGBTQ+ actors. The effectiveness of Universal Pictures’ marketing campaign, which put great emphasis on the historic nature of the movie, has also been questioned.

But ahead of its theatrical release, Bros received positive early reactions following its premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival last month. The queer rom-com later got positive reviews from critics. CinemaBlend’s own Corey Chichizola called the comedy a riot with a fresh perspective. In the lead-up to its debut, Billy Eichner also promoted the movie in a number of ways, one of which saw him humorously enlist Paul Rudd to encourage straight people to see it.

Though they’re clearly not pleased with the reception at the box office, Nicholas Stoller, Billy Eichner and co. are still proud of their film. Stoller also made a fair point in that a number of movies do find renewed interest via streaming and/or PVOD. We’ll have to wait and see if that ends up being the case here. 

You can see Bros in theaters now, and be sure to check out CinemaBlend’s schedule of upcoming movies to stay in the know on other high-profile productions releasing this year.

Erik Swann
Senior Content Producer

Covering superheroes, sci-fi, comedy, and almost anything else in film and TV. I eat more pizza than the Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles.