Brock Willard managing editor
One of the latest romantic comedies to hit the theatres was “Bros,” one of only a handful of romantic comedies centering on gay people and their lives to receive a large theatrical release. The movie had a budget of 22 million but released to a measly 11 million. In movie industry terms, that is a complete failure. Let’s examine why.
The movie, directed by Nicholas Stoller and co-written by the director and Billy Eichner, features Eichner as podcaster Bobby Lieber, a gay man in New York City who has just accepted a position as the curator for the soon-to-be-finished National LGBTQ History Museum, the first of its kind. The film also stars Luke Macfarlane as Aaron Shepard, Lieber’s love interest. The film stars many LGBTQ actors including Ts Madison, Bowen Yang, Dot-Marie Jones, Guy Branum, Jim Rash, and Becca Blackwell, and Eichner has stated in interviews that casting a majority LGBTQ cast was the goal of the film.
When the film released, there was a flood of review bombs by people who had never seen the film but simply wanted to make it seem bad purely because it doesn’t feature straight actors in principal roles. This phenomenon of insecure people review-bombing a new film, TV show, or video game that just happens to feature LGBTQ people or themes. If you see a film that features a minority group that has an extreme number of one-star ratings, you should be cautious of the validity of those ratings.
However, those reviews cannot be the only factor in examining the film’s poor performance. As a general trend, it is less and less likely that movie goers who are not of a certain group will not want to see movies based entirely around members of that group. This is easily the case with “Bros.” Heterosexual and cisgender people generally don’t want to go see a movie about LGBTQ people and this is absolutely a problem.
When we tend to take in stories that center our own worldviews, we become islands unto ourselves. We start to lose empathy for the struggles of others, and we tend to view our lives as normative. I can assure you that LGBTQ people go through struggles that straight and cisgender people simply do not, in addition to the ones that they do share. A film like “Bros” is meant to show how the “other half,” so to speak, lives. Eichner and other actors encouraged straight and cisgender people to watch the film because of its importance in this manner but it just didn’t happen.
The unfortunate reality is that because of the film’s poor performance, it is unlikely that we will get more major theatrical releases that feature a majority LGBTQ cast or a romantic comedy that centers on lives other than cisgender and heterosexual people. That is simply how the film industry operates. If something proves itself “not to work,” then producers are far less likely to invest in projects that have similar premises. The only thing we could do now is if it ever releases on streaming services, stream it as much as we can to show that there is an audience for these kinds of stories.