Gay romcom LOVE SIMON broadens Hollywoods horizons
Los Angeles (AFP) - At first it looks little different from any other teen drama, but Fox's "Love, Simon" is as significant a milestone for LGBT inclusion as "Black Panther" was for racial diversity.
While the DVD aisles of superstores the world over groan under the weight of stories of callow first love, never before has a mainstream studio romantic comedy been told from the perspective of a gay teenager.
"Everyone, myself included, can relate to Simon and his journey, and trying to find yourself and come to terms with yourself in a way that feels comfortable," the film's 22-year-old star Nick Robinson said at a recent preview screening in Los Angeles.
Directed by Greg Berlanti ("The Flash," "Supergirl") while he was on break from his various TV jobs last January, "Love, Simon" is based on Becky Albertalli's young adult novel "Simon vs. the Homo Sapiens Agenda."
Robinson ("Jurassic World," "Everything, Everything") plays Simon Spier, a high school senior in a suburb of Atlanta, Georgia, who hasn't told his family or friends he's gay.
Compounding his problems, Simon has fallen for "Blue," a fellow closeted classmate he chats with online, although he has no idea of his paramour's true identity.
"Love, Simon" figures among a number of coming-of-age gay movies released in recent months, including the Oscar-winning "Call Me By Your Name" and "The Miseducation of Cameron Post," which scooped top prize at the Sundance Film Festival.
What makes it unique is that it is a wide-release, mainstream rom-com aimed as much at the Saturday afternoon shopping mall market as the indie-centric festival crowd or motion picture academy.
- 'Cultural moment' -
Studios have long insisted that moviegoers won't show up for stories of gay romance, dismissing the $178 million box office for "Brokeback Mountain" in 2005 as an anomaly.
Yet the phenomenal box office success of "Black Panther" -- $1.1 billion and counting despite a longstanding belief that "black movies" are not much of a draw overseas -- is challenging received wisdom all over Hollywood.
"Love, Simon" has a 91 percent approval rating, according to 23 reviews collated by entertainment website Rotten Tomatoes, and is tracking to make $18 million across its debut weekend when it opens on Friday.
Box office monitor Exhibitor Relations is predicting a $55 million domestic run -- a healthy return for a project that cost $17 million to make.Read More...