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If at first you don't succeed, blame it on the film critics.

Such is the thinking behind a bizarre promo ad released by the producers of Gotti, John Travolta's new widely-lambasted gangster film.

The film – a biopic on the late Gambino mob boss John Gotti, starring Travolta as the infamous Teflon Don – opened in the US this past weekend to a disastrous 0 per cent score on Rotten Tomatoes, based on 28 critics' reviews.

Kelly Preston and John Travolta at the premiere of Gotti in New York last week.

Photo: Invision

In their reviews, New York Times critic Glenn Kenny called the film a "dismal mess", while Rolling Stone's Peter Travers labelled it a "s—show". The New York Post called it the "worst mob movie of all time".

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Now, its creators have sought to stem the bad publicity with their own attack ad, labelling the critics "trolls".

"Audiences loved Gotti. Critics put out the hit… Who would you trust more? Yourself, or a troll behind a keyboard?" the ad asks.

The film, directed by Entourage star Kevin Connolly, had a bumpy ride to production, with actors Al Pacino and Joe Pesci previously attached to the project.

Travolta's version was originally slated for a release last December, before distributor Lionsgate sold the film back to its producers just days ahead of its proposed release.

In April, MoviePass – a controversial subscription-based ticketing service in the States that gives moviegoers access to one cinema screening a day for a monthly fee of under $US10 – took a financial stake in the film.

According to Deadline, MoviePass accounted for around 40 per cent of tickets sold in the film's opening weekend. "Theyre literally buying the tickets to their own movie!", an unnamed indie studio boss quipped to the publication.

The film does not yet have an Australian release date.

Rob Moran

Rob Moran is an Entertainment reporter for The Age, The Sydney Morning Herald and Brisbane Times.

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