MoviePass, the movie-ticketing startup whose whole business model is essentially subsidizing enough impossibly cheap tickets with investors’ money that it gains leverage over theaters, is fast hemorrhaging cash. But with the firm possibly running out of funds by the end of next month (or turning to a line of credit) and trying a last-minute swing at also becoming a production company, things are looking grim.
So Gotti can’t help. Per Recode, MoviePass invested in the recently released John Travolta biopic about New York mafia don John Gotti, which happens to be one of the biggest critical bombs of the year and possibly one of the worst movies ever made. It has a zero percent on Rotten Tomatoes. Zero.
...MoviePass invested in “Gotti” earlier this year, as part of its new MoviePass Ventures unit, which takes equity stakes in movies. The idea is that MoviePass can help make those movies a hit, by promoting them to its users, and can share in the upside when that happens.
“‘Gotti’ is precisely the type of film we established MoviePass Ventures to support,” MoviePass CEO Mitch Lowe press-released at the time it announced the deal.
But it sure doesn’t look there’s any upside to “Gotti,” which stars John Travolta, and was directed by Kevin Connolly, who you know as the guy who played “E” on “Entourage.” It appears to be astonishingly bad, at least according to people who are paid to review movies for a living. It’s currently sitting at 0 percent at Rotten Tomatoes.
That puts Gotti in the ignominious company of movies like Jaws: The Revenge, National Lampoon’s Gold Diggers, Superbabies: Baby Geniuses 2, and something called Max Steel. For just a taste of how bad this movie is, according to the New York Times, it opens with Travolta narrating Gotti’s life from beyond the grave while also sounding “like an idiot.” The paper added, “There does exist the possibility that John Gotti was an idiot. But because the movie... never attains a point of view on the character, one can’t really say.”
Later, Gotti apparently tries to turn the title character into the hero. The New York Post wrote it “belongs in a cement bucket at the bottom of the river” and dubbed it the worst mob movie of all time.
To a point this makes sense for MoviePass. If they can try and convince some of their reportedly now three million-strong userbase into getting off their asses and seeing the apparently awful Gotti at one of the 503 theaters it is playing in, that could be a good way to demonstrate the service’s utility to theaters operating on razor-thin margins. If that was the intent, MoviePass certainly knew what kind of bomb it would be trying to defuse. As the Hollywood Reporter noted, the film struggled through seven years of production hell and has crew credits so long they might as well have been printed out by CVS:
Since first being announced in 2011, the project has gone through a quartet of directors; its IMDb page lists 44 producers, executive producers and co-producers; and just this past December, its future appeared in doubt when distributor Lionsgate Premiere pulled it from the release schedule just 10 days before the movie was to hit theaters.
The Reporter noted today Gotti appears to have come in with a measly $1.6 million opening weekend, meaning the producers aren’t anywhere close to recouping its estimated production budget of $10 million. It’s possible that the movie might fare better in international markets.
The good news, according to Recode: Another film that MoviePass acquired a stake in, American Animals, did critically well, but only grossed around $544,000 in its first two weeks.