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MoviePass invested in ‘Gotti,’ the new John Travolta mob movie everyone hates

An offer they should have refused.

John Travolta as mob boss John Gotti
Peter Kafka covers media and technology, and their intersection, at Vox. Many of his stories can be found in his Kafka on Media newsletter, and he also hosts the Recode Media podcast.

Good news for MoviePass, the might-be-too-good-to-be-true company that lets you see unlimited movies for a monthly fee: It is still alive.

Bad news for MoviePass: Gotti.

That’s “Gotti,” the new John Travolta film about mob boss John Gotti. It debuted this week and appears to be one of the worst movies of the year.

It was also supposed to be one of the things that kept MoviePass alive.

That’s because 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.

Some highlights of the lowlights:

“A dismal mess,” says the New York Times. Its “shabby aesthetic and narrative shortcomings are outweighed by its more drastically questionable moral ones,” says the Guardian. “It’s not a good movie,” Entertainment Weekly TL;DRs. “The worst mob movie of all time,” rules the New York Post. More, if you want to keep going, here.

The good news for MoviePass is that “Gotti” is the company’s second movie investment. “American Animals,” MoviePass’s first stab at this, came out earlier this month to positive reviews. But there are very decent odds you haven’t heard about it — it’s in a few dozen theaters and has grossed $544,426 over two weeks.

More positive news for MoviePass, which loses money every time you see a movie using the service but hopes to eventually get enough scale to somehow fix that: It is now up to three million subscribers, up 2x from the beginning of the year.

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