Gotti – a biopic of the mafia starring John Travolta – was suddenly dropped by the Lionsgate dealer yesterday, and that sudden movement has now been explained. In the current social climate – with accusations of inappropriate sexual behavior against powerful Hollywood figures on a seemingly constant basis – some had assumed that the decision to leave Gotti could be related to accusations against someone involved in the film , possibly even Travolta himself. However, it turns out that the truth is much more mundane.
To recap, Gotti was scheduled to hit theaters on December 15, so yesterday's report that the Lionsgate distributor had opted to sell the film back to its producers trapped by surprise. After all, movies that are moving or changing distributors are not exactly a rare occurrence in Hollywood, but those types of offers tend to be resolved long before the release date scheduled for a movie. Although it is not clear why this move was made so late in the game, at least now we know what the objective was.
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According to Deadline, it was not Lionsgate's idea to discard Gotti from their ranks. On the contrary, the producers of Gotti actually asked the distributor to resell them the rights to the film, in order to try to get a big premiere at the cinema. Gotti was not ready to receive a large release under Lionsgate, which was intended to release the film through its Lionsgate Premiere label, which handles limited theater scenes and day and date with VOD releases. There was a repurchase clause in the distribution agreement, which the Emmett / Furla / Oasis producers decided to exercise, and Lionsgate did not insist.
A question that remains unanswered here, as mentioned above, is why Emmett / Furla / Oasis decided to buy again Gotti so close to its release date. There may be a simple explanation for that, since an external investor financially backs the film for a broad release, and it is not clear exactly when they did it. If it was a recent agreement, producers may have had another option to do things at the last minute.
The goal of Gotti for a broad release is now May 2018, but the film has to acquire a new distributor first, so it remains to be seen if that calendar will remain. While Travolta is still a big name, one wonders whether to try to throw a dramatic biopic about the infamous former boss of the Gambino criminal family for a month where Avengers: Infinity War and Solo: A Star Wars Story will hit theaters and end up being a smart move.
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