Gotti, starring John Travolta, tanked at the U.S. box office, earning only $1.6 million in its opening weekend. The biopic about the famous crime boss notoriously languished in development hell and was once viewed as a potential vehicle for director Barry Levinson and star Al Pacino. It didn't truly gain traction until 2015, when Entourage's Kevin Connolly signed on to helm, commencing principal photography in 2016. Gotti encountered even more issues when original distributor Lionsgate sold the rights back to the producers. Vertical and MoviePass acquired the rights and forged ahead with a release.
Finally making it to the big screen this month, Gotti's woes continued when it received the rare 0 percent score on review aggregate Rotten Tomatoes. That kind of word-of-mouth is toxic for a smaller film trying to standout amongst the crowd of summer tentpoles, and now the troubled biopic is hit with even more bad news.
According to The Wrap, Gotti brought in just $1.6 million from 503 screens during its first three days in theaters. That makes it Travolta's worst-performing film since 1991's Shout, which also grossed $1.6 million when it debuted. If Gotti was to be successful, it needed to earn at least $3 million.
Gotti's producers were keen on having a wide theatrical release, though it might have been smarter to stick to the initial plan of going straight to VOD. Despite MoviePass' efforts to promote the film to its subscribers, Gotti averaged a measly $3,320 per screen. That's a stark contrast from MoviePass' last project, American Animals, which opened in only 4 theaters and made an average of $33,698 per screen. Even this weekend, when American Animals expanded to 72 locations, it made $3,005 per screen. Ultimately, Gotti was not a wise investment and serves as a valuable lesson for MoviePass as they look to evolve with their new distribution venture. Quality matters; American Animals is Certified Fresh on Rotten Tomatoes and has done very well in its limited run.
It seems unlikely Gotti will be able to turn things around, meaning it will go down as a loss, even though the production budget was only $10 million. Sometimes, films that go through hell just to be seen turn out fine, but this obviously was not one of those instances. Hopefully, things go much better for MoviePass the next time they distribute an indie film and they can continue to flourish. The company must have big plans in store, or else they wouldn't have so confidently launched their latest initiative.
Source: The Wrap