John Gotti Jr. thinks the story of his father’s life should at least be playing on a few more screens on the Gambino family’s home turf. The son of the notorious mobster is distressed that “Gotti” is only playing a few theaters in Brooklyn.
“It’s not being shown in areas where the story happened and that’s a shame,” he said. “I don’t get it.”
Gotti Jr. has been working on getting the film off the ground for nearly a decade, and the biopic starring John Travolta finally arrives at 503 theaters this weekend. But the low-budget drama could get whacked at the box office.
The long-gestating project, which was directed by “Entourage” star Kevin Connolly, is now saddled with a 0% fresh score on Rotten Tomatoes, based on six reviews from the Cannes Film Festival, where it premiered on May 15 and Travolta made headlines boogieing onstage with 50 Cent at the after-party.
Originally scheduled to open in December through Lionsgate, the producers bought it back just 10 days before the day-and-date theatrical and VOD release in hopes of a wider opening.
MoviePass is teaming on the release with Vertical Entertainment and Sunrider. It’s the second acquisition for the monthly subscription service following a limited opening for “American Animals,” which has grossed $417,089 since June 1. Despite poor reviews, the independent drama is the kind of film MoviePass hopes filmgoers might check out when they’ve run out of blockbusters at the multiplex.
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Travolta co-stars with his wife, Kelly Preston, in the mobster movie centering on New York’s Gambino family leader from a script by Lem Dobbs and Leo Rossi.
John Gotti died in 2002 at the age of 61 at a Missouri federal prison in Springfield, Mo., while serving a life sentence without parole for racketeering-murder convictions. Spencer Lofranco portrays Gotti Jr., who left the mobster life behind shortly before his father’s death.
“Spencer is much better looking than me, but he did capture my essence,” Gotti Jr. said.
Gotti Jr. said Travolta did a better job than Armand Assante in the 1996 film “Gotti.”
“Armand did a great job and John did a better job,” he added. “He nailed the body language and he owns the room in his scenes. He doesn’t have my father’s natural swagger, though.”
Fiore Films acquired the crime figure’s life rights in 2010 from Gotti Jr., and announced at the Cannes Film Festival that Al Pacino had come aboard to portray Gotti associate Neil Dellacroce. The role was eventually filled by Stacy Keach. “Gotti” also stars Travolta’s daughter Ella Bleu Travolta, Pruitt Taylor Vince, Chris Mulkey, and Lydia Hull. “Gotti” ended up with 45 different producers and executive producers listed on its IMDb page.
Lionsgate had planned to release “Gotti” last Dec. 15 through its Lionsgate Premiere specialty division — which would have been a day-and-date release for theatrical but mostly for VOD and streaming. But two weeks earlier, producers Emmett/Furla/Oasis Films exercised a provision in its 2015 deal allowing it to buy back the movie from Lionsgate. Edward Walson of Sunrider also invested in “Gotti” in order to get a theatrical release.
Helios and Matheson Analytics, the parent company of MoviePass, bought a stake in “Gotti” in late April and then acquired the exclusive option to buy Emmett/Furla/Oasis on May 30.