Gay Rom-Com 'Bros' Won't be Distributed in the Middle East

Saturday September 24, 2022

Billy Eichner and Luke Macfarlane in "Bros"
Billy Eichner and Luke Macfarlane in "Bros"  (Source:Universal)

Planning on seeing "Bros" in Dubai? Think again. Variety reports that the Billy Eichner-penned rom-com — Hollywood's first with two out men in the leads — is preemptively canceling release in the Middle East due to cultural concerns.

"The Universal movie, which hits the U.S. box office on Sept. 30, is set to roll out across most international markets in October and November, but is pre-emptively skipping any kind of release in Middle East markets due to cultural and commercial reasons, sources close to the studio tell Variety."

A scene from "Bros"
A scene from "Bros"  (Source: Universal)

While the exact markets have yet to be determined, "it's likely to include Saudi Arabia, the United Arab Emirates, Egypt and Kuwait — all of which are notorious for censoring movies over even the slightest hint of LGBTQ themes or content."

Variety continues:"Hollywood has had a difficult track record opening movies with LGBTQ characters or content in the Middle East. Most recently, Disney's 'Lightyear' missed out on a release in Saudi Arabia, the U.A.E. and Kuwait, among other Middle East territories, due to the inclusion of a same-sex kiss in the 'Toy Story' spinoff."

In the film Eichner plays a podcaster who believes he will never be in a relationship, that is until he meets hunky lawyer Luke Macfarlane. Nicholas Stoller ("Forgetting Sarah Marshall," "Neighbors") directs the film, which also features Bowen Yang, Jim Rash, Dot-Marie Jones, Harvey Fierstein and several celebrity cameos.

When screened at the Toronto Film Festival last month, the film received a strong buzz and largely positive reviews. Writing in Variety, Peter DeBarge says: "What makes the film unique, Debruge concludes, is the way it looks into the intricacies of men-on-men sex. "This is the territory where 'Bros' breaks new ground, since the "rules" of gay rom-coms have yet to be codified: like whether having someone's undivided attention is a turn-off or a good thing, and what each character needs to feel appreciated and adored. Certainly, there aren't many straight love stories where a meet-cute is followed by one of the parties going off to shag someone else."

And at IndieWire, critic Ryan Lattanzio praises the film for being radical while being a consistent Hollywood product. "The actual breaking of ground is that the cast is top-to-toe gay, gay, gay... and that's pretty much where it stops. The screenplay's contours are broadly conventional, but that's a good thing. When we talk about wanting to be seen, a lot of us really mean that what we want is a gay version of our '90s rom-coms when the genre was at its best. 'Bros' fits the bill."