Why ‘Bros’ Disappointed at the Box Office – It Is and Isn’t What You Think

Bros is the first gay rom-com to come from a major Hollywood movie studio. As a result, there was a lot of pressure on it to succeed. The story follows two men played by Billy Eichner and Luke Macfarlane who have commitment issues, but give a serious relationship a chance. Unfortunately, Bros didn’t earn the reception that the studio and all those involved were hoping for.

‘Bros’ only earned $4.8 million at the box office on opening weekend

'Bros' Luke Macfarlane as Aaron and Billy Eichner as Bobby in box office disaster. They're sitting at a table holding their drinks in bright-colored glasses with white and red straws.
L-R: Luke Macfarlane as Aaron and Billy Eichner as Bobby | Nicole Rivelli / Universal Pictures

According to The Hollywood Reporter, this past weekend was a win for horror and a loss for the LGBTQ rom-com. Smile brought in a solid $22 million against a $17 million budget. This is especially impressive when considering that it was originally intended to be a streaming title release, but it ultimately connected with audiences.

Meanwhile, Bros only brought in $4.8 million at the box office for a film that cost $22 million to make. Universal Pictures approached the title with modest expectations, but it couldn’t meet them.

In response, Eichner took to Twitter to express his frustrations that “straight people, especially in certain parts of the country, just didn’t show up for Bros.” Further, he pointed out that an unnamed theater chain wanted to pull the trailer from circulation due to its gay content, but Universal convinced them not to.

Moviegoers complained about ‘Bros’ marketing efforts

Bros earned a high Rotten Tomatoes score and the coveted “A” CinemaScore, but that wasn’t enough to save the rom-com from doing poorly at the box office. Journalist @lostblackboy is one of many users frustrated with the movie’s marketing campaign. He pointed out that the film relied on its “groundbreaking” status as the first gay Hollywood rom-com without a major star in the lead role.

Others never heard of Bros before its box office discourse, explaining that the marketing campaign didn’t reach as far as required to adequately spread the word. Additionally, the poster only shows Eichner and Macfarlane’s backsides in jeans with a hand on each other’s behind. It doesn’t do much to draw audiences in, regardless of whether or not they’re a part of the LGBTQ community.

Hollywood’s first gay rom-com wanted to have its cake and eat it

Bros was in a difficult position at the box office for multiple reasons. The marketing had to make a decision whether it wanted to target specific audiences or if it wanted mainstream appeal. However, it tried to do both and ultimately couldn’t do either.

Rom-coms haven’t led the box office in quite some time, and Bros is no different. There are undoubtedly audiences who won’t see the movie because it’s centered on a gay couple, but blaming the film’s financial disappointment entirely on them is an oversimplification.

The issue is that the movie wants to serve as something monumental for the LGBTQ community while it’s also trying to teach straight audiences about LGBTQ history, relationships, sex, and inside jokes. Bros took on a massive undertaking of trying to be everything all at once. Audiences who actually see the movie enjoy it, but it didn’t do a very good job of getting mainstream audiences to get in theater seats.

Bros is the type of box office disappointment that likely has a much better potential future on premium cable channels and streaming services, where a light rom-com has the ability to be just that. Hopefully more audiences decide to give it a chance because it’s deserving of the praise it received.

RELATED: ‘Bros’: Billy Eichner Was Forced to Film the Only 2 Scenes With Luke Macfarlane He Asked Not to Shoot on the First Day