By all accounts, John Travolta’s new John Gotti biopic, Gotti, is terrible. It’s been widely panned by critics, earning a rare 0 percent rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and it didn’t even make it into the top 10 at the box office on its opening weekend. But the marketing team behind the film is determined to turn things around. It’s crafted a new campaign that is right at home in 2018, in which it takes aim at the mainstream film critic industry that dared to dislike its shitty movie.
“Who would you trust more, yourself or a troll behind a keyboard?” asks the truly bizarre advertisement that comes just short of employing the phrase “fake news.” It’s an interesting tactic to say the least, one that supposes every critic that said they hated the movie—including our own—only did so because they were afraid of what might happen if audiences saw Travolta’s tired mobster acting. Or maybe they’re scared of John Gotti’s ghost coming after them. Or maybe they truly are trolls (who just happen to be professionally employed as film critics) and are doing it for the “lolz.”
Dennis Rice, who headed up marketing for the film, spoke with Deadline about the poor reviews, saying, “It makes me wonder if the press and critics don’t want a movie to succeed because they incorrectly think we are glorifying John Gotti.” Given the past success of gangster movies that could easily be accused of glorifying such criminal activity, this accusation doesn’t really hold water.
There is something to be said for this idea that “audiences loved Gotti.” Despite its poor box office performance, the Rotten Tomatoes audience rating for the film is a solid 75 percent, based on nearly 7,000 user ratings. So, the people who saw the trailer for Gotti and thought, “I would enjoy this film,” did, in fact, tend to enjoy it. This begs the question: Who is this aggressive, anti-critic ad campaign for? It’s unlikely that anyone following the Gotti Twitter account isn’t already on-board with this train wreck, and everyone else will probably take the word of the reviewers. But what do we know? We’re just a bunch of trolls behind keyboards.
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