John Travolta has clarified a few details regarding Tuesday’s news that his upcoming John Gotti biopic will no longer be released via Lionsgate Premiere.
EW previously confirmed that the film, directed by Entourage star Kevin Connolly, had been sold back to production company Emmett/Furla/Oasis, which was said to be seeking a new distributor for a 2018 release, as opposed to the originally planned Dec. 15 theatrical bow. Travolta, who plays the notorious mobster in the movie, says that he was unsatisfied with the studio’s release model, and worked with financier and film/Broadway producer Edward Walson to change it, buying Lionsgate out of their initial deal in the hopes of securing a broader rollout elsewhere.
“Unfortunately, the reports were speculation bordering on fake news,” Travolta told the publication on Wednesday. “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. Ed is a fan of mine and of the Gotti story, and really wanted to see the movie. I invited his group, they saw it and bought it.”
He continued: “That is the simple explanation for this. It wasn’t dropped. It wasn’t easy to get Lionsgate to give it up. They said no, twice, and I literally begged them to reconsider and they finally and generously let it go. 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.”
Earlier Tuesday, Connolly took to social media to call various reports the Gotti‘s release shuffle “fake news” and “wrong.”
Walson further explained to Deadline that he’s closing in on a deal with a new distributor, and is hoping to submit the film to the Cannes Film Festival’s prestigious competition program.
“I’ve been struggling for the past few weeks with John, and Phil Glasser, to put this deal together with Lionsgate, which wasn’t initially ready to give it up,” Walson said. “This is a big movie star film, with a multi-dimensional iconic character portrayed by one of the great multi-talented actors. We are hoping to take this movie to Cannes; it’s a movie star film that deserves the glitter of Cannes, and then a wide release shortly thereafter.”
Representatives for Travolta and Connolly did not return EW’s request for comment.