Matt Damon and Michael Douglas in Behind The Candelabra

Behind the Candelabra, the Liberace biopic dubbed “too gay” by conservative film studios, has become the most watched film on the HBO network since 2004.

The film tells the true-life story of the fiery romance between camp showman pianist Liberace (Michael Douglas) and his young lover Scott Thorson (Matt Damon).

While Behind the Candelabra was originally conceived as a big-screen film, director Steven Soderbergh revealed that Hollywood movie studios turned down the project because of its gay content.

The film was finally backed by the HBO network, on which it debuted in the US on Sunday to great success – vindicating the director’s vision.

In two broadcasts on that day, Behind the Candelabra  was viewed by a total of 3.5 million viewers. This makes it the most watched film on the network since 2004′s Something the Lord Made.

Commentators noted that this was especially remarkable considering that it was screened on America’s Memorial Day long weekend, which traditionally sees fewer people watching television.

Gay icon Cher was one of the film’s viewers and later tweeted: “Watched Behind the Candelabra. At end I felt tears streaming down my cheeks. It was tiny bit slow, but it showed Unvarnished Human Frailty”.

The film premiered in Cannes last week to glowing reviews and will be screened in cinemas in other countries around the world; including South Africa at the end of September.

Watch the making of Behind the Candelabra below.

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