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Standing at center stage inside the Colosseum at Caesars Palace, Billy Eichner had a very pressing question for 3,000 exhibition industry insiders.
“Vegas! Are you ready to make history?” the actor yelled into a microphone Wednesday during Universal Picture’s CinemaCon presentation. “It only took a century!”
With that, Eichner presented the first look at Bros, a film he praised as the “first major studio film with an all openly LGBTQ cast,” and a romantic comedy at that. “We have waited a long, long time,” he said of the film that also features gay actors playing straight parts.
Bros is directed by Nicholas Stoller from a script he co-wrote with star Eichner about two men (Eichner and Luke Macfarlane) with commitment problems as they attempt a relationship. Jim Rash, Harvey Fierstein, Monica Raymund, Amanda Bearse, Guillermo Diaz, Dot-Marie Jones and Benito Skinner are just a few of the names who lent their talents to the film.
The trailer revealed that the film has meta moments in that Eichner’s character, Bobby Lieber, shares that he was asked by a studio to write an LGBTQ-focused screenplay as he details those conversations (some of which are shown).
The clip also did not shy away from reflecting the story it tells by showing circuit parties, family moments, gym workouts, business meetings and even a four-man orgy. “You’re both bottoms, that’s the problem,” Diaz’s character says in one scene. In another, Eichner’s bare butt is shown.
The film comes out Sept. 30. Bros rolled out as part of Universal’s packed presentation that featured it with a slew of trailer drops and talent appearances during the annual convention hosted by the National Association of Theatre Owners. Prior to the reveal, Eichner got plenty of laughs during his brief time on stage.
He kicked off his comments with a flood of jokes. “This is the most exciting thing to happen in Caesars Palace since Adele refunds,” he quipped. “Usually when I come to Vegas, I come to see gay icons perform, like Cher, Britney Spears and the Bellagio fountain.
He later called Bros “the hottest thing to hit Vegas” since Lady Gaga had sex with Tony Bennett on the same Caesars stage. In reference to seeing gay actors playing straight, Eichner explained it like this: “Look at all the things moviegoers believe — Star Wars, Spider-Man and Transformers. You don’t think a gay man can play straight but you believe in Chewbacca?”
He then said, “Representation matters.” There were other earnest moments, too. Jeff Zarrillo, general manager at AMC Burbank 16, joined Eichner in debuting the trailer. Eichner credited Zarrillo — an out gay man from New Jersey, whose husband, Paul Katami, was in the audience — with being one of the challengers who followed Prop 8 all the way to the Supreme Court.
“I have to admit that seeing a movie about two men falling in love in New York is a movie I’ve been waiting for my whole life,” Zarrillo said.
Eichner said that the creative team’s first priority was, of course, to make a “great, funny movie,” but beyond that they wanted to provide opportunities for actors that have been overlooked. “I know it’s weird for me to say this about my movie, but it is unlike any comedy or romantic comedy that you have ever seen,” he said. “It’s not about gay people suffering tragically. It’s about how hard it is to find another tolerable human being to go through life with.”
In a recent interview with The Hollywood Reporter that coincided with the reveal that he was to be honored with a Comedy Star of the Year at CinemaCon, Eichner called Bros the best thing he’s ever done. “Creatively, it’s the most rewarding thing I’ve ever done and the most meaningful thing, professionally. We shot it in New York last fall and it was magical,” he said.
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