NEWS ANALYSIS — Gotti, the Italian crime boss biopic starring John Travolta dropped by Lionsgate and acquired (partially) by MoviePass, generated $1.67 million during its opening box office weekend.
Media reports say the movie subscription service owned by Helios and Mathenson Analytics (HMNY) accounted for about 40% of the $10 million budgeted film’s tickets sold. That’s a bigger percentage than the $135,000 opening weekend for American Animals, the indie heist film HMNY’s MoviePass Ventures acquired last year at Sundance.
While Gotti infamously generated a 0% score on Rotten Tomatoes, the reality is that MoviePass essentially bought four out of every 10 tickets sold to its own movie. That’s because the service pays theater operators face value for every ticket “purchased” by its 3 million subscribers, who pay $9.95 monthly for access.
The margins might actually be better since MoviePass has leveraged ticket price discounts with many indie exhibitors in exchange for generating foot traffic.
“It used to be in distribution, we’d all gossip whether a studio was buying tickets to their own movie to goose their opening. But in the case of MoviePass, there’s no secret: They’re literally buying the tickets to their own movie!” an unidentified indie studio executive told Deadline.com.
But for how long? HMNY is spending more on tickets monthly than it generates in subscriber revenue — an economic reality that has plummeted the stock price to 35 cents-per-share.