For the handful of critics who went out of their way to watch Gotti, the John Travolta pic should sleep with the fishes.
As of this morning, the Vertical Entertainment-MoviePass Ventures release is registering a 0% Rotten Tomatoes Score. That’s lower than the 6% earned by the Ben Affleck-Jennifer Lopez 2003 film Gigli, one of the millennium’s most notoriously panned films.
Many of the reviews by top critics are so fierce, they’re hysterical. The New York Post‘s Johnny Oleksinski declares “Gotti flick is the worst mob movie of all-time… I’d rather wake up next to a severed horse head than ever watch Gotti again. The worst movie of the year so far, the long-awaited biopic about the Gambino crime boss’ rise from made man to top dog took four directors, 44 producers and eight years to make. It shows. The finished product belongs in a cement bucket at the bottom of the river.”
A big put-off for reviewers is how the film tries to paint Gotti as a NYC local hero, with Rolling Stone‘s Peter Travers screaming, “Insane testimonials from Gotti supporters at the end are as close as this shitshow will ever get to good reviews”.
Showbiz 411’s review and New York premiere coverage describes a situation where many guests “fled the theater before the movie was over,” with the website declaring the Kevin Connolly-directed pic as “the $9.99 All You Can Eat Buffet Version of Goodfellas.”
The 0% Rotten Tomatoes score comes with some asterisks. First, as Deadline has learned, Gotti was largely shielded from critics, so right there you know that the producers knew what they had and wanted to protect this film in hopes that moviegoers might show up — an impossible task in this social media era.
On that point, it makes sense why Gotti producers partnered with MoviePass, who took a low seven figure stake in the pic, so as to access their 3M subscribers and get people in seats. The only risk for MoviePass members is whether Gotti is a waste of time. Should they leave the theater hating Gotti, at least they didn’t waste an extra $10-$20 to see it. MoviePass’ share of Gotti‘s box office is unreported at this time. However, we’re informed that Saturday is a big day for subs.
Gotti received a private gala screening at the Cannes Film Festival, and even there, only a few critics slipped in (who promptly panned the movie). We hear that in the cities where Travolta actually toured the film, and where limited P&A was spent, Gotti overindexed, i.e. New York, which reps 19% of the pic’s $1.8M projected opening, followed by Los Angeles, Las Vegas, Chicago, Philly, Miami and a number of cities in Florida. “At least audiences vote with their pocketbooks,” says one insider close to Gotti. The pic’s $1.8M start at 503 theaters isn’t raising eyebrows among indie distributors, who believe a $3M opening is more solid.
Also, so far, there are only 21 reviews for Gotti on Rotten Tomatoes, as opposed to the 337 critics who gave Avengers: Infinity War an 83% certified fresh, or the 208 who graded Ocean’s 8 a 68% fresh, or even the 106 who gave Tag a 57% Rotten. The point is, it’s very different to get a 0% Rotten Tomatoes score than an F CinemaScore.
Yes, CinemaScore is an audience exit poll, but its grades are statistically weighted from a certain sampling of correspondents. Rotten Tomatoes scores are not weighted, and those who work in the major studios’ PR and marketing departments have a big problem with that, as the barometer site boasts a Roman Emperor’s power in determining whether a movie lives or dies at the box office. Studio insiders have suggested that a film’s Rotten Tomatoes score should only register and become public after a certain number of reviews have been collected. Inside studies conducted by studios have shown how Rotten Tomato scores can impact tracking and advance ticket sales.
On the other hand, it’s questionable at this point whether even 100 reviews would have any kind of impact on Gotti‘s score. A majority of the reviewers leading the charge are top critics with big voices, and a pack rat cynicism toward the Travolta pic is in full swing.
CinemaScore and ComScore/Screen Engine’s PostTrak didn’t poll Gotti audiences, since the pic isn’t a wide release in 503 theaters. Also, we’re informed that neither organization was hired to conduct private polling.
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