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On Tuesday afternoon, reports emerged that a biopic of mobster John Gotti starring John Travolta was being dropped by its distributor, Lionsgate, just 10 days before its planned release.
As the news quickly spread, many concluded that the mafia drama was being unceremoniously whacked.
But, in an interview with Deadline published Wednesday morning, Travolta pushed back, saying the speculation surrounding the fate of “Gotti” was “bordering on fake news.”
In fact, according to Travolta, who plays the notorious one-time head of the Gambino crime family, the film’s backers, with a new infusion of financing from producer Edward Walson, bought the film back from Lionsgate so that they can secure a wider release than the studio had planned.
“Lionsgate was planning on a minimal release and I did an investigation into people who might have the interest and financial wherewithal to better release it,” Travolta said.
“It wasn’t dropped .... We signed this deal about three weeks ago, to purchase back the film from Lionsgate. Our mistake was we should have said something right then, and discussed our plan for the film. We didn’t anticipate this speculation that is so grossly wrong.”
Travolta and Walson say that they are nearing a deal with a new distributor for the film, which is directed by Kevin Connolly, and hope to premiere it at next year’s Cannes Film Festival.
Gotti, known as the “Teflon Don,” died in federal custody in 2002 while serving a life sentence for murder, racketeering and other crimes.