John Travolta’s ‘Gotti’: Reel reviews, real opinions and ‘real people’

New movie has thrown up a strange review pattern and people are asking questions

John Travolta  vehicle Gotti,  received a  pummelling from critics, but audiences love  it, apparently

John Travolta vehicle Gotti, received a pummelling from critics, but audiences love it, apparently

 

Nobody likes a bad review, and in the world of internet criticism, nothing stings harder than a rotten tomato to the face. So found the producers of lacklustre John Travolta mobster vehicle Gotti, who this week received a critical pummelling so profound, one might expect its cast and crew to turn up in the Hudson bay wearing cement-crafted crocs.

In response to the critical whacking that resulted in Gotti earning a rare zero per cent RT score, the film’s marketing team took a step hitherto unseen, even in the world of aggressive social media publicity; a paranoid hit campaign on America’s critics.

“Audiences loved Gotti but critics don’t want you to see it” cried an unusually direct tweet from @GottiFilm last Tuesday. “The question is why??? Trust the people and see it for yourself!”. The odd syntax, profligate punctuation and strangely unhinged tone might have set off alarm bells, even before the text on the screen blared, in large yellow and white text “WHO WOULD YOU TRUST MORE? YOURSELF OR A TROLL BEHIND A KEYBOARD?”.

Strangely, the crux of their case – that real people loved their madcap barrel of nonsense even if elitist critics didn’t – hinged on that very same platform which had made them unenviably famous. You see, while Gotti’s RottenTomatoes critic score was a big fat zero, its user rating was an astonishingly variant 75 per cent – the single biggest difference ever recorded for the site.

Unfortunately for the movie’s producers, this only spurred those selfsame keyboard trolls to dig a little deeper into those numbers. Deadline queried how a film that only opened in 500 cinemas and made $1.6m in tickets, ended up with 7,000 reviews – practically as many as The Incredibles 2 which opened in 4,100 theatres, and earned $180m in the same period.

One clue could be in Gizmodo’s investigation into online ticket retailer MoviePass, which invested in the film once it was dropped by Lionsgate and this week started aggressively marketing the film to their text subscribers. The AV Club even reports that one Reddit user analysed 45 random “user” reviews on the site and found that 32 had never reviewed any film other than Gotti, with seven of the remainder reviewing just it and a film called American Animals; a film that also just happened to be part-funded by MoviePass.

This could all be hearsay, or a classic case of a brand accidentally drawing attention to their own chicanery, but whether you’re a film producer, or a mobster twitchily checking his rear view mirror for helicopters, it pays to remember that even if you’re paranoid, they could still be out to get you.

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