A New Yorker Festival panel with actor and comedian Billy Eichner and playwright and actor Harvey Fierstein, who both appear in Bros, turned into an onstage post-mortem about the gay rom-com’s disappointing opening.
Fierstein, who has a cameo role in the film, criticized Universal’s “history-lesson” marketing and the studio’s decision to open it wide given that the high-stakes release pattern meant that the pitch took a hectoring turn. It then had to cajole a broad cross-section of people to buy tickets, not an easy feat even before the climate grew even dicier for theatrical comedies coming out of Covid. The result: a $4.8 million weekend, about 40% below expectations.
In his signature rasp, Fierstein blasted “the whole idea of putting this movie out with this idea of, ‘The first ever gay movie! Starring a gay homo! And written by a big homo … but produced by heterosexuals! I mean, ‘Is this a history lesson or a movie?’ I didn’t think it was really smart. I think sometimes, you have to let the audience find you. Let them discover you, let them fall in love with you. Because the movie is too good. … It’s just really human, and had the audience been allowed to find it on their own, I think they would have easier” as opposed to what he mocked as Universal’s “get the f–k in the theater or I will call you names!” approach.
Eichner, who co-wrote the Judd Apatow-produced film with Nicholas Stoller, who also directed, has ridden endless waves of backlash and affirmation over the past week since the bow. He tweeted his pride in the film but also lamented the homophobia endemic to moviegoing populations in large swaths of the country, which he blamed for its underperformance. Columns and think pieces then went after Eichner for wagging his finger at the audience, blaming the very ticket-buyers he needed to cultivate. “I never knew people were so interested in me,” Eichner said.
While the panel at the SVA Theatre (and livestreamed on Twitter) was harmonious and Eichner lavished praise on Fierstein’s legacy, he did gently push back on the idea that the studio deserved blame for how it handled Bros. “There wasn’t much of a blueprint for this movie when it came to the marketing and all of that,” Eichner observed. Universal “could not have been more supportive every step of the way. But it was a new type of movie for them, too. When Hollywood takes more than a century to release an R-rated gay rom-com and to do this wide of a release with a movie like this, there isn’t much of a blueprint to follow.”
The historical nature of the release, though, factored in on only some — and not all — marketing messages, Eichner said. “I think Universal felt that it might be a motivating factor.” Ultimately, he concluded, “the marketing is not the movie and the tweets are not the movie and the discourse — especially from those who have not seen the movie — is not the movie. The movie is the movie, and the movie is one that makes a lot of people happy and that I’m really proud of.”
A lack of bankable stars — due to the filmmakers’ decision to have an all-gay cast, meaning many A-listers wouldn’t have qualified — hampered the opening, Eichner said, along with “so many things stacked against it” as a theatrical proposition. “We could have easily thrown Chris Evans into the Luke McFarland role” as Eichner’s character’s opposites-attract boyfriend. “But we didn’t because for us it was important to give a number of openly LGBT actors a chance to star in a movie even though they weren’t movie stars.”
The conversation went on to touch on a number of other topics — such as Fierstein’s experience writing and starring in the Tony-winning landmark Torch Song Trilogy on Broadway in the 1980s during the onset of AIDS — but it returned many times to Bros. As things warmed up, Eichner’s comic edge returned, and the free-flowing talk recalled at times the pop-culture drive-bys on Eichner’s Hulu series Difficult People as well as Billy on the Street, which got several onstage shoutouts. After a serious point about most gay-themed screen projects involving tragedies and not Nora Ephron-style romantic uplift, moderator Michael Schulman noted that Bros came out as Dahmer (which stirs gay identity themes into its serial-killer stew) was climbing the Netflix charts. “Sorry I’m not as likable as Jeffrey Dahmer!” Eichner howled. “You think I’m insufferable?! I mean …! Every gay man I know is like, ‘I don’t know about Bros … but Dahmer!”
Netflix & Paramount+ To Profile ‘Strip Search Caller’ ; TVOKids Spotlights Down Syndrome With Toon Series; ‘One Piece Film Red’ London Takeover — Global Briefs
Netflix & Paramount+ UK To Profile ‘Strip Search Caller’
Netflix and Paramount+ have struck a first of its kind-of-deal over a true crime documentary telling the story of the strip search caller in the U.S. Paramount+ has taken UK rights to Pervert: The Hunt for the Strip Search Caller and Netflix has rest of world on the doc, which it will be calling Don’t Pick Up the Phone. The deal is believed to be the first time two streamers have worked in such a way in the UK and rest of world. The doc tells the shocking story of a hoax caller who targeted fast food restaurants across the U.S. – posing as a police officer investigating a theft, the caller instructed managers to strip-search the young female employees he said were suspects. For many victims, what began as a humiliating strip search escalated into sexual abuse.
Canada’s TVOKids Spotlights Down Syndrome In Animated Series ‘Griffin And Turner’
EXCLUSIVE: Ontario, Canada’s TVOkids and Big Jump Entertainment are working on 2D-animated series Griffin and Turner. Based on real Canadian brothers who a significant online following, the show follows the supportive pair as they, their friends and family undertake personal challenges but focus on the journey rather than winning. Turner has Down syndrome, and TVOKids executive producer Kirsten Hurd noted the series has been developed in consultation with the Down syndrome community. Producer Big Jump is behind shows such as Shutterbug and Big Words, Small Stories.
London Gets ‘One Piece Film Red’ Takeover After Record Haul
To celebrate the record-breaking haul of One Piece Film Red in the UK, the Straw Hat Pirates are set for a takeover of iconic London locations on November 26. Via local distributor Anime Limited and Toei Animation, the cast and memorable scenes from the series will be projected onto the County Hall of London, opposite the London Eye as well as other key locations. One Piece Film: Red has grossed over £800,000 in the UK and Ireland since it released earlier this month, making it the biggest of the long-running franchise. A phenomenon in Japan, One Piece Film Red has grossed $162M to date worldwide
‘All Quiet On The Western Front’, ‘Belfast’ Top 2022 EFA Arts & Crafts Awards
Edward Berger’s All Quiet On The Western Front and Kenneth Branagh’s Belfast top the European Film Academy’s Excellence Awards honoring achievement in the arts and crafts categories, the winners of which were announced on Wednesday.
Belfast won best European Production Design for Jim Clay, whose credits include Children Of Men, for which he won a Bafta in 2006, and Murder On The Orient Express.
The drama, set against the backdrop of the beginnings of “The Troubles” in Northern Ireland in 1969, also won best European Costume Design for Charlotte Walter (Blithe Spirit, Misbehaviour)
Netflix-backed German WWI drama All Quiet On The Western Front won best European Make-up & Hair for Heike Merker, and Best European Special Effects for Frank Petzold, Viktor Müller and Markus Frank.
In other categories, best European Cinematography was won by Kate McCullough for her work on Colm Bairéad’s Irish-language drama The Quiet Girl.
Best European Editing went to Özcan Vardar and Eytan İpeker for Turkish director Emin Alper’s drama Burning Days.
Polish composer Paweł Mykietyn won best European Original Score went for Jerzy Skolimowski’s EO.
Best European Sound went to Simone Paolo Olivero, Paolo Benvenuti, Benni Atria, Marco Saitta, Ansgar Frerich & Florian Holzner for Michelangelo Frammartino’s cave exploration drama The Hole.
The winners, which are decided by a special expert jury, will receive their awards at the European Film Awards ceremony on 10 December in Reykjavík.
Jennifer Lopez’s Social Media Mysteriously Goes Dark
EXCLUSIVE: The actress, producer and top-selling performing artist’s social media channels including Instagram, Facebook, Tik Tok and Twitter have suddenly gone dark in their featured/cover images.
Reps for Jennifer Lopez were unavailable for comment, but we hear from others that The Hustlers and Marry Me actress is on the verge of announcing a new project.
Here’s a look at her Instagram tonight:
While Lopez’s Instagram had erased all posts, a trail of her previous postings remained on Facebook, Tik Tok and Twitter. Across all four social media portals, Lopez counts close to 347M followers, the majority of that coming from her Instagram.
Lopez’s Nuyorican Productions in June 2021 signed a multi-year first-look deal with Netflix spanning feature films, TV series and unscripted content, with an emphasis on projects that support diverse female actors, writers and filmmakers. Lopez co-runs Nuyorican Productions with her producing partner Elaine Goldsmith-Thomas.
Lopez scored her best opening for a live-action movie at the domestic box office with STX’s 2019 stripper caper Hustlers which debuted to $33.1 million, and grossed $105M stateside, $157.6M worldwide. As a recording artist, Lopez has sold over 70 million albums, with J.Lo became her bestselling album with 3.8M copies sold in the U.S. and 12M global. Her Netflix thriller The Mother from director Niki Caro is set to debut in May. Her romantic comedy Shotgun Wedding with Josh Duhamel will hit Prime Video on Jan. 27.
On Facebook, one of her followers, Steffany Merino wrote, “What’s happened? Hope you and your wonderful family are ok. I’ll pray for your health and safety.”
Again, we hear something special is in the works in the next few days.
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