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Is ‘Gotti’ Manipulating Rotten Tomatoes to Make Its User Score Higher? Suspicious Fan Reviews Spark Debate

The "Gotti" marketing campaign claims audiences love the movie, but now questions are being asked if part of that audience is even real.

Gotti John Travolta

“Gotti”

Brian Douglas

Marketing for John Travolta’s “Gotti” went viral this week with an online advertisement that bashed critics as “trolls behind the keyboard” after the film earned a 0% on Rotten Tomatoes. The advertisement claimed “audiences love” the movie — but the number of fan reviews now flooding Rotten Tomatoes suggest “Gotti” has been seen as widely as “Incredibles 2.” And that seems a little, well, suspicious.

“Gotti” currently has a fresh 68% user score, and at this writing, has 7,068 user reviews; “Incredibles 2” has 7,865. “Gotti” opened in roughly 500 theaters and opened to $1.7 million while “Incredibles 2” played in over 4,000 theaters and had a record-breaking $182 million debut.

At an average ticket price of $9.16, that means of the 187,762 people who watched “Gotti” this weekend, 3.76 percent of them reviewed the film on Rotten Tomatoes. For “Incredibles 2,” which had an audience of 19,944,094, its RT reviewer participation stands at less than .04 percent.

Mashable reporter Kellen Beck cited a Twitter thread from Screen Junkies critic Dan Murrell, bringing attention to the onslaught of five-star fan reviews on the “Gotti” Rotten Tomatoes page. Murrell also pointed to the fact “Gotti” has more user reviews than “Ocean’s 8” (4,852 scores). “Ocean’s 8” opened in 4,145 theaters and has made over $80 million at the U.S. box office to date. The film has also been out for a week longer than “Gotti,” which makes it strange the Travolta movie would already exceed the “Ocean’s 8” fan score by over 2,200 entries.

Murell pointed to an indie like the Jon Hamm-starring “Beirut” as the kind of movie “Gotti” should be emulating on Rotten Tomatoes, which debuted in under 1,000 theaters and opened to $1.7 million. It has only earned 717 user scores in two months.

Another red flag observed by Mashable is how numerous fan reviews are coming from accounts created on Rotten Tomatoes this month. Many users giving “Gotti” five stars have only reviewed “Gotti” and, in some cases, one or two other movies, and a majority of the accounts are private. When reached for comment, Rotten Tomatoes told Mashable “all of the ratings and reviews were left by real users.”

Rotten Tomatoes’ statement rules out bots as the cause of “Gotti’s” high fan score, but it still leaves open the possibility of the “Gotti” team creating real accounts and posting positive user scores. Dennis Rice, who spearheaded the marketing for the film, made note of the film’s positive Rotten Tomatoes user score when speaking to Deadline about the film bombing with critics.

You can read Murrell’s entire Twitter thread below, and click here for more of Mashable’s investigation. IndieWire has reached out to Vertical Entertainment and Rotten Tomatoes for further comment.

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