Cincinnati-shot 'Gotti' biopic opens Friday with Jeff Ruby, Joe Deters in scenes

Movie poster for "Gotti." (Photo: "Gotti")
Movie poster for "Gotti." (Photo: "Gotti")

CINCINNATI, OH (FOX19) - The John Gotti biopic filmed in the Tri-State premiered in Cincinnati on Thursday and hits theaters nationwide Friday.

"Gotti," starring John Travolta, made its big-screen debut at the Cannes Film Festival in the South of France last month.

Travolta, his wife and co-star Kelly Preston star in the Kevin Connolly-directed film about the notorious mob boss.

Cincinnati served as New York City in the 1970s and 80s when filming occurred in 2016. Locations included downtown Cincinnati, Over-the-Rhine, Finneytown, Indian Hill, Northside and Hamilton.

Gotti's death scene (from cancer in 2002 at a federal prison) was shot at the Butler County Jail, prompting Sheriff Richard Jones to proudly joke: "John Travolta died in my jail!"

A John Gotti Jr. wedding scene filmed Downtown at the Hilton Cincinnati Netherland Plaza.

You'll also see some familiar faces on the silver screen.

Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters earned his SAG card playing a judge in a scene shot at the Hamilton County Courthouse. He gets a tongue-lashing from Preston, who portrays Gotti's wife, according to a clip played on "Good Morning America" earlier this week.

Restaurateur Jeff Ruby has said he has a non-speaking part as a crime family boss in another scene.

He bonded with some of the film's cast and crew, including Travolta, Preston and Connolly, when they dined at Jeff Ruby's Steakhouse on Walnut Street in downtown Cincinnati

Connolly has said he ate there "every night" during filming.

The Hamilton County Sheriff's Special Response Team (SWAT) also is featured in the movie. They conduct a search warrant and arrest John Gotti Jr.

So far, however, reviews for "Gotti" have been, well, pretty bad.

Variety's said Travolta's "performance ain't lousy, but the movie that surrounds it is, and it's almost laughable to see this iconic star trying to hard on behalf of a project that is so compromised in its intentions."

IndieWire critic David Ehrlich said the actor "plays the Teflon Don like a cross between Ray Liotta and Alec Baldwin's impression of Donald Trump."

His review ends with: "This is a strange thing to say about a notorious mob boss who was locked up for murder, but John Gotti deserved better."

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