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'Brothers' director, producer opens up about 'confusing' opening weekend and the heated debate it sparked

The first Hollywood movie to hit theaters when it started building buzz for Bros earlier this year The LGBTQ romantic comedy studio, to be sure, no one involved in the film is expected to sweep social media and the industry debate after its release .

In a perfect world, the conversation might still be centered on comments in sterling, with Filmmaker Nicholas Stoller comedy currently holds Rotten Tomatoes , or A CinemaScore, or movies with only LGTBQ actors in major roles. Indeed, there doesn’t seem to be anything particularly controversial about the premise of Bros , which tells the story of podcaster Bobby, played by

. Billy Eichner (co-writing the screenplay) as a lone wolf believes he’ll never find the right match until he falls in love with the strong Aaron (Luke McFarlane), who himself may not be Prepare to be completely vulnerable.

Instead, the talking point isn’t just about its inability to find an audience for its opening weekend — it’s No. 5 at the domestic box office $4.8 million — also touched on Eichner’s review of the film, explaining why he felt the film was not the same as different previous queer streaming projects (lead Fire Island star and writer Joel Kim Booster’s response), his tweet then assessed the direct audience ” just didn’t show up .”

In his first interview since September. release, Stoller told The Hollywood Reporter that he and the rest of the team are still The movie is proud, Universal , and given the encouraging test scores, it’s not clear why moviegoers The project is not supported during the opening weekend. “It’s very confusing and rascal,” Stoller said of the opening. As for Eichner’s tweet, Stoller said the data confirmed the claim: “Gay men are the only ones who have seen the movie. It’s not like he’s telling a lie or something that’s not true.”

(from left) Edgar (Guillermo Diaz), Tina (Monica Raymond) and Bobby (Billy Eichner) in brothers

Guy Branum , the film’s co-producer and co-star as Bobby’s close friend Henry, shared a thoughtful thread, he also became part of the Twitter conversation In addition to responding to the many who shared his views, he also wanted to get Better support from the audience. The film’s marketing has also sparked heated debate, including discussions about whether it might alienate certain audiences, or whether it was enough to give a sense of how comedic and upbeat it was. Branum told THR that he had some advice that ended up not being exploited.

“I have some ideas for unused posters. I have ideas for unused banners. For what I think they need to do for community outreach, I Very outspoken,” Branum said, adding that producer Stoller Judd Apatow and others involved in the creative process appreciate his pitch. “I don’t fully understand the way big corporations make decisions. I’m sure they think they’re making the best choice in order to bring this movie to the majority.”

in THR, Stoller and Branum share their thoughts on why more people aren’t buying tickets for opening weekend, whether it’s comedy still working in theaters why the need for big name stars to sell rom-coms doesn’t necessarily make sense , and what’s next for similar projects.

Nicholas Stoller and Luke Macfarlane on the set of Bros If I could guess which September release would get the most Twitter chatter, I’d assume Don’t worry, dear. But I think you tried it.

Nick Stoller We did it! (laughs.)

GUY BRANUM BUT Don’t worry dear chatter Nicholas Stoller and Luke Macfarlane on the set of Bros into the box office. Really, we should spit at each other.

What do you think about this What do you think of all the controversy surrounding the film and its release?

Stoller I can’t say I’m happy with how this movie turned out. ( Laughs. ) This movie is funny, which is weird. As someone who makes comedy for movie theaters — or until this weekend, I think, I love watching comedy in movie theaters, and so do people. It’s almost like people don’t know what’s good for them. I’ve screened this film many times now, and it’s always been great. As I joke with a friend of mine, this is an entertainment delivery system. There’s a lot going on about why it might not be doing as well as we all hoped. But I really like it. (laughs.) I don’t know what to say! This is so confusing.

Some of the narrative seems to revolve around Billy Eichner first telling Variety that this project is different from a “one-off” LGBTQ project that goes straight to streaming, and then he Recent tweets encourage any “homophobic weirdo” who isn’t supporting the film. What do you think of his remarks?

Stoller For the breed thing, I think he just got it wrong. Everyone was very excited to piss everyone off, or whatever.

BRANUMGuy Branum Billy’s lack of clarity on how streaming movies is presented makes it difficult to People think he’s Shadow Fire Island , which is ridiculous and not what he meant. This led to a lot of people wanting to support Fire Island and saying, “This is a good gay movie; Brothers It’s a bad gay movie.” But I think this failure should illustrate what Billy was trying to say. In fact, it’s a gay comedy that’s been in theaters for 3 years, Theater – in Birmingham, Alabama and Gary, Indiana etc. are all over the US – it creates the possibility of different types of success and different types of failure. We went through that failure.

Guy Bram
Amy Sussman/Getty Images society

S Tolle [as for his latest tweet], he’s telling the truth. We got the data back. Gay men are the only people who have seen the film. It’s not like what he said was a lie or something incorrect. I think the industry has trained people not to go to theaters for comedy. But I also think people see it and think, “That story isn’t my story. Why should I watch that?” They’ll slowly discover it because that’s what happens with most of the movies I’ve directed, except Neighbors , people will find it as it hits the world. I think a lot of people are still scared of going to the theater, and a lot of people will see it on streaming.

According to the data we have, Billy is not wrong – this is Neighbors among gay men strike. (laughs.) But we think it will have a wider reach than that, purely based on testing. It tests highest in women. It doesn’t test the highest among gay men. First, it tests high in everyone. I have no idea. (laughs.) This is very confusing and rascal. This movie aside, it’s just sad to tell the story. This will be one of the places people will find it on PVOD and streaming. But it’s so much fun to watch this kind of movie in a movie theater.

Man, what makes You posted the Twitter thread you did in response to Lily’s post?

BRANUM1235232912 Bros had a poor initial weekend, which was disappointing, and when the series’ That’s when even more shocking articles started to appear, just declaring that the movie was the bomb. Not a lot of comedy did well after the pandemic, it was a movie without a big star and we didn’t live up to expectations. It’s weird because we made a product that we knew was good, and the critics and audiences responded so well, but everyone was ready to tell the story of the movie’s failure. Then it got worse when Billy reacted to this flippant reaction. And I just think some of us are really overlooking a bunch of different things, but one of them is the risk that he and Universal took when trying to make this movie, and a lot of people just said, “Well, it’s a great way to do this. Stupid.” I really just wanted to point out that they put a lot of effort, time and energy into developing a bunch of queer, very talented people, but they don’t have the same opportunities as straight Hollywood performers. In doing so, Billy took a very good opportunity and increased the risk of spreading the opportunity.

So weird op-ed in Los Angeles Times saying, “Let gay art fail” — essentially, as a community, we Don’t owe gay art anything. It’s a very strange way of looking at things, because if we don’t owe gay art anything, gay art doesn’t owe us anything. I’ve spent most of my career working on stuff where I share my voice with heterosexual performers because that’s what it takes to pay the rent. To fail gay art is to fail gay artists. I’m not saying we should support art just because it’s gay, but when we have something really good – the CinemaScore for this movie is an A, yes 87 Percentage) Rotten Tomatoes – I really don’t understand the beauty or importance or nobility of letting it fail. If we just let queer art fail, we can’t expect better performance. We will continue to represent us the way heterosexual leaders want to represent us.

Stowe Le This is also part of our clickbait culture, he just Say something real and then everyone gets mad at him. (laughs.) At this point, I’ve made a lot of movies and I’m disappointed. But oddly, before that, the biggest disappointment for me – this is an old movie – was a five-year engagement . But that movie was a melancholy one. This is a fun movie from start to finish. It’s tested like a really fun movie because it’s so entertaining.

BRANUM I really think this marketing campaign should be better, To communicate with the queer community what this film is about and how it honors them. There is no marketing model for a comedy movie on this scale – not drama, not serious, not about gay trauma – on this scale to get to 3, Theater. They don’t know how to develop a marketing plan for this. They don’t know how to communicate. We shouldn’t be surprised that it messed up.

Many people said: “What about Brokeback Mountain ?” Or, “The Birdcage ?” “How about please call me by your name ?” The problem is, for so many movies, they involve heterosexuality Actors play gays, there are straight writers, there are straight directors. Most of these things are released in a very limited way. Also, one of the things that the marketing of the movie did very badly was keep reminding everyone that it was important and historic, which is silly and absurd. It’s a fun, entertaining movie that really should draw other people’s attention to whether it’s historically significant.We’re in a situation where the only thing that’s historically significant is our failure.


Director Nicholas Stoller and actor Luke McFarlane on set Brothers Courtesy of Everett Collection

Too much talk about marketing. Do you think it doesn’t portray the movie the right way?

Stoller No, I think they did a great job, they put so much power behind their back, they put all their power in behind, because the movie is really fun and interesting. You can’t help but go to quarterback on Monday morning. I was like, “What trailer will make it more money?” Nothing. Obviously, this is a very small sample size, but it doesn’t happen to me very often: people call me and say, “I just saw your trailer Elvis . Everyone in the theater was laughing.” They cut out the hysterical trailer to show the tone of the movie, which shows it’s really fun. They put it anywhere. I have no idea. This is confusing. I don’t have an answer. I hope you will. (laughs.)

BRANUM I came up with some ideas for an unused poster. I came up with ideas for unused banners. I’m very vocal about what I think they need to do for community outreach. Nick and Billy and producers Josh Church and Judd were very receptive. My idea is not used. I don’t know where this happened, but the people I’ve dealt with are happy to get those who think about the queer community to think about how to communicate this to people. Before the movie came out, I was trying really hard to get the dance remix of the song at the end of the movie so we could be in clubs and bars so the queer community would understand that this was our movie and that they were a part of it . I don’t fully understand how big companies make decisions. I’m sure they think they’re making the best choice in order to make this movie available to most people.

It seems that some people Disgusted by the line at the end of the first trailer about heterosexual “run well”.

BRANUM I am on my Instagram and Twitter Surprised by the number of comments, Naoto was very angry about it. This can’t be a movie that treats heterosexuality with kid gloves. Heterosexuals really never treat gays or transgenders with kid gloves. A few jokes are just fair shifts. It’s rough, but we’re learning.

How do we get people back Going to the theater for a comedy?

Stoller I have no idea. I am always optimistic. I also watched the movie with a lot of different audiences and they all responded positively, they clapped and said “wow” and did a lot of things that didn’t happen in the movies I’ve seen. Given all the pandemic stuff and everything else, I’d rate this on the curve, even though it’s technically my smallest opening. It sucks. Too bad it didn’t open better, but I’m proud of it.

When you look at the rest of the theatrical releases, the main comedy is Tickets to Heaven , with Julia Roberts and George Clooney, followed by Marry Me with Jennifer Lopez and The Lost City with Sandra Bullock. Looks like the only face we want to see is the last face we see years, or rom-coms need to be verified Did the A-lister succeed?

BRANUM The problem is that proven A-listers tend to be white. They are basically straight cis people. We had to figure out what the path was, because frustration with Bros came from all directions. On the one hand, it’s like, “None of these people are movie stars. Billy Eichner is not a movie star. Why am I going to see that movie?” And then a lot of people are frustrated that the movie centers on two white gay men — I don’t think we’re going to get the same uproar over having two white people at the center Tickets to Heaven because we both know and love Julia Roberts and George Cooney and are so happy to be Go see a movie about them. But I’m not willing to accept a world where only Bai Shunzhi is famous 1000 to be able to have a big, funny comedy that people can enjoy in theaters.

Stoller Honestly, when it comes to comedy, there’s always something new Talent can make a huge difference, at least I’ve been doing it since I started. Like Superbad, Michael Cera on Arrested Development – he’s not famous. Jonah Hill wasn’t famous until then, and that was a huge success. or10 – year old virgin – I’m going back – but Steve Carell Just spent a minute in office ; it’s not a huge hit. The fresh sound makes these films so successful because it’s something you’ve never seen before. And the cast is so good. They are so much fun. I also do think that people – it’s purely topic based and not based on anything – feel like it’s good for them when it’s actually not fun and interesting. (laughs.)

feels like homework?

Stoller Yes, this might feel like homework. But it’s just about two people messing up a bit and falling in love. This whole experience was very strange. Also, the box office is part of a movie’s life, and most of a movie’s life exists after its opening weekend — 48 percentage.

BRANUM This is the hardest part when you look back at Seth Rowe In the case of Seth Rogen this 05-year-old virgin knocks on door for paved the way) and his career; Melissa McCarthy in Bridesmaids who opened the world for her. If you look at Tiffany Haddish in Girls Trip and how many superstars she has become. If this movie is going to make money, I think it will give those supporting characters in the movie a lot of opportunities. I hope enough people in LA see this and they do realize how talented someone like Becca Blackwell or Ms. Lawrence or Alison Reese is.

Was it weird when you saw stories that said things like “bombs”? Do you think we’re throwing these words out too soon?

Stoller weird because it sucks. But it didn’t do well at the box office, so it would be disingenuous to say anything else. I’m probably best known for forgetting Sarah Marshall , that movie did do well at the box office, but it wasn’t like a huge knock Door hit or Superbad hit. Then after years it became a thing. While it’s true that I haven’t slept well the past few days, given my experience with Sarah Marshall, I can’t help but take a long-term view and are now wanted by many to be such a classic. Everyone can have their own opinion, but it doesn’t matter. It sounds cheesy when I think about this movie, but I’m starting to think it’s so good to imagine Bobby and Aaron meeting, fighting, falling in love, falling out of love and then being together again, over and over. Always do it all over again. It’s such a beautiful idea, and I think that’s how it’s lived. For now, I wouldn’t describe it as funny. (laughs.)

BRANUM Making LGBTQ+ stuff is difficult for many reasons, but one of the difficulties is that you are rejected so much by the industry and the market. You start to wonder if you are that idiot. You start to wonder if you don’t know what you’re doing. The day after the first box office numbers came back, The New York Times said you had a highly rated product that was heavily backed by the studio – the only possible answer Totally rejected by the market. When you read it as a gay comedian, it’s like, “Jesus Christ, should I do this? Should I spend my career writing trendy shows for trendy ladies? I shouldn’t Trying to make queer content?” One of the best things about getting straight people involved is that they don’t have the same emotional attachment and fear that comes with accepting what we do. This is not a referendum on Nick’s identity, he can say from a distance, “We made a good movie. It will stand the test of time. Don’t be freaked out by this.”

Does this make you less interested in participating? Drama competition?

Stoller I mean, I love it. It certainly made me a little nervous, but I couldn’t help but keep trying to fight a good fight. I think it’s going to be harder now because this one doesn’t work in theaters. It will be interesting to see what happens. I also support every movie that comes out in theaters. So I’m excited Smile Well done! I hope we do well too. (Laughing.) It’s also fun to laugh with a lot of people in the theater. It’s like a party and it’s a weird thing to not have anymore.

BRANUMNicholas Stoller and Luke Macfarlane on the set of Bros There are those movies like Bridesmaids or Crazy Rich Asians push the boundaries of what Hollywood thought was possible. It’s exciting to live in an age where development executives, studios, and independent filmmakers are willing to see such a wide range of stories. We really wish we could deliver something that would provide this kind of extension. Yes, it’s great if a lot of people watch it on streaming. I hope so. But if we can show that the movie can make money in theaters, it will change the status quo. To do that, we really have to convince straight people that watching a comedy about gay people written by gay people and performed by gay people and trans people is something they want to do. We didn’t figure it out.

Guy BranumThis It may be too early, but are there any takeaways or lessons to learn?

Stoller This is confusing stuff and I didn’t learn from it. ( Laughs. ) I always try to learn from things and the only lesson I can learn from it is that I am very proud of this movie and just try to make what I believe in , because in the end that’s all you have left. You didn’t leave your box office. You’re like, “Oh, I’ve had this amazing experience. I’ve worked with guys like Guy Branum and Billy, and the whole cast is amazing.” I learned a lot about the LGBTQ world.

You hear the studio news?

Stoller They are just confused and proud. They were disappointed, but they were proud of the film. In this film, all three tests lead to engaging dialogue and people applaud. Usually, your first test is bad, even if the movie ends up being good. That’s why studios spend a lot of money. They didn’t spend money because they thought the movie was good for the world. They pay because it’s a very interesting movie.

Interview edited for length and clarity.



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