Yesterday, we reported on the bizarre marketing tactics being used to promote John Travolta’s terribly received John Gotti biopic, Gotti. The movie’s marketing team railed against “troll” critics who lambasted the film and used the Rotten Tomatoes audience rating to justify the claim that “audiences loved Gotti.” Now—as reported by Mashable, Dan Murrell of Screen Junkies, and even our own commenters—it appears there’s reason to believe that favorable audience rating has been artificially inflated.
Rotten Tomatoes was quick to nip any conspiracy theories in the bud, telling Mashable that “all the reviews for Gotti were made by real users.” But it doesn’t take a genius to figure out that some of these numbers aren’t adding up. For one thing, the film only opened in 500 theaters and yet, at the time of writing this article, over 7,000 people have rated the movie. Compare that to Oceans 8 or Incredibles 2, which had much wider releases and have garnered approximately 4,800 and 7,800 audience reviews, respectively. Sure, it’s possible the small number of people who saw Gotti just love leaving Rotten Tomatoes reviews, but that seems very unlikely.
Things get more complicated when you consider the involvement of MoviePass. As reported by Gizmodo, MoviePass, the movie ticket subscription service, invested in Gotti earlier this year, and they haven’t been shy about promoting the film to their customers. They even sent out a push notification yesterday that echoed the anti-critic sentiment of the Gotti marketing campaign:
Additionally, Reddit user wunder_3 took a minute to investigate some of these five star reviews and found that, out of a sample of 45, “32 have only reviewed Gotti, 10 reviewed Gotti and another movie (7 times it was American Animals for some reason) and 3 had more than 3 reviews.” Pretty suspicious, right? Well, get your tinfoil hats ready: MoviePass owns a stake in American Animals, too.
None of this is conclusive, but it’s certainly very weird. If it proves anything, it’s that our current online rating aggregate system is incredibly flawed. Not only because it can be blown to pieces by organized hate groups and bored teenagers, but because the companies who have a vested interest in a film’s success could potentially manipulate the numbers just as easily.
Alternately, maybe Gotti is actually great. Time will tell!
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