You really have to be careful when it comes to advertising. We like to think there’s nothing influencing ads but that’s not always the case. For instance, one would think the MoviePass push notification about John Travolta’s new film Gotti would be non-partisan, but the subscription-based ticketing service may not be the best source to listen to.
As people discovered after the push notification, which seemed a little odd, MoviePass co-distributed the movie. “Audiences love GOTTI but critics think otherwise,” the notification reads, referencing the rare 0% critic score that it currently holds.
This notification seems weird until you realize Moviepass actually invested in Gotti pic.twitter.com/ZLr26ruZpo
— Kyle Foley (@KFoleyFL) June 19, 2018
One would think that’s where the mystery ends, but there’s more to this story. As a Reddit user pointed out in a post on Tuesday morning, there’s something fishy about Gotti’s audience score on Rotten Tomatoes.
I find it absolutely hilarious that MoviePass (the ticket company) bought the distribution rights to Gotti but also offers it free to its customers. So basically MoviePass is buying all the tickets for its own movie.
— Cautiously Realistic (@CautiouslyReal) June 19, 2018
According to the Reddit post, of the first 58 reviewers in the movie’s audience score, “45 of them had created their account on June 2018.” The post goes on to reveal that of those 45, “32 have only reviewed Gotti,” and seven reviewed only one other movie: American Animals, which was also distributed by MoviePass.
Okay, I’ll just come out and say it. Some party involved with Gotti artificially manipulated the audience scores and they’re now using it as a marketing strategy. The numbers don’t make sense. Even if that weren’t true, this is a divisive & desperate way to sell a film. https://t.co/Q5jznjNRSx
— Dan Murrell (@MurrellDan) June 19, 2018
As Screen Junkies critic and producer Dan Murrell pointed out on Twitter, the audience score is being “artificially manipulated” and is now being used as MoviePass’ marketing strategy for a movie for which it receives a cut.
So it would appear MoviePass is behind Gotti’s bizarre rotten tomatoes audience score + ad campaign… not weird at all. https://t.co/eplfm5ubPm
— Nick Laughlin (@nick_d_laughlin) June 19, 2018
Even the Gotti official Twitter page went after the critics slamming it, calling them “TROLLS behind a keyboard.” Outside of being tacky, as a Rotten Tomatoes editor points out, it’s actually pretty offensive to critics.
— Gotti Film (@Gotti_Film) June 19, 2018
Wow!!!!! I didn't know that we were all trolls behind a keyboard. This is really offensive. https://t.co/wBvWRYCu98
— Jacqueline (@THATJacqueline) June 19, 2018
It’s probably not too difficult to determine who to trust in this situation, making this one of the strangest and most aggressive attempts at swaying an audience into seeing a movie in quite a long time.
This is your friendly reminder that the Rotten Tomatoes user rating is easily gamed, while there is zero proof that studios bribe critics https://t.co/BZEsWqVxTV
— Alan Zilberman (@alanzilberman) June 19, 2018