Every studio told Soderbergh his Liberace movie was ‘too gay’

Steven Soderbergh’s film, Behind the Candelabra, starring Matt Damon and Michael Douglas, is set to hit HBO this Spring, and according to Soderbergh, speaking at the Television Critics Association press tour over the weekend, the only reason it’s not getting a theatrical release is that every studio in town told him it was “too gay.” This despite it costing only $5 million to make, having a name director, and starring Matt Damon and Michael Douglas. (*spits out coffee*) Hold on, Liberace is GAY?!

“Nobody would make it. We went to everybody in town,” the “Traffic” and “Ocean’s 11” director told TheWrap on Friday, at the Television Critics Association winter press tour. “We needed $5 million. Nobody would do it.”

“They said it was too gay. Everybody. This was after ‘Brokeback Mountain,’ by the way. Which is not as funny as this movie. I was stunned. It made no sense to any of us.”

“They’re great and they’re really good at what they do, and ultimately I think more people will see it, and that’s all you care about,” Soderbergh said. “Studios were going, ‘We don’t know how to sell it. They were scared.'” [Yahoo/TheWrap]

Considering all the gay stuff studios release – Milk, Brokeback, Pitch Perfect, Fast and Furious – and how hot gay-themed projects are generally considered to be these days, you wonder if “they said it was too gay!” is just a convenient excuse for a movie that had bigger problems, not to mention a great way to curry sympathy. But Steven Soderbergh seems like a pretty straight shooter, so if he says it, I believe him. Plus it’s hard to be surprised by stories of business execs doing something shortsighted anymore. It’s just weird that the American public could be almost universally obsessed with super gay stuff – find me a network show that isn’t about singing and/or dancing, for instance – but only if the gayness isn’t spoken outright, like this, or I Love You Philip Morris (which had similar problems). You can crowbar some gay stereotypes into every sitcom after Modern Family, but God forbid you try to depict an actual gay relationship.

Incidentally, “too gay for theater” was the meanest thing my guidance counselor ever told me.