America loves gangster films. From Scarface to Goodfellas to the Godfather trilogy, we can’t seem to get enough mob movies. So a new film about mobster John Gotti, currently in production from Executive Producer (and Rhode Islander) Michael Mota, is certainly something to look forward to.
The film will star Armand Assante, the renowned actor who took home the “Outstanding Lead Actor in a Miniseries or a Special” Emmy Award for his powerful portrayal of John Gotti in the 1996 film, Gotti.
The film is being written by Nick Vallelonga, who co-wrote and produced Green Book, and who received “Best Original Screenplay” and “Best Picture” Academy Awards for his contributions to that film, and George Gallo, writer of Midnight Run, which starred Robert De Niro.
Gotti Il: The Final Chapter, Facts Undisputed is expected to be released in 2022. I spoke with Mota last week to learn more about the project. He gave an update on where the production stands at present.
“Right now we’re in the writing stage. Armand, John Gotti Jr., and the writer are getting all the artifacts together, then they’ll start doing the writing which takes about 3-4 months. We’re looking at about 12 months, to have it written, cast, and then shooting, the editing process and marketing, we’ll hopefully be ready to show the trailer by next April, at the next Mob Movie Con.”
For the past year and a half, Mota has produced several Virtual Cons, a business he started at the onset of the Covid pandemic. Virtual Cons allow fans to “attend” entertainment conventions from their homes.
“Virtual Con came about because of the pandemic, he explained. “We were doing conventions, Sopranos Con was the first, then Mob Movie Con, and Boxing Con, and then the world shut down. At that point, we decided to become a technology company. Our corporate headquarters are here in Rhode Island and we were able to create jobs in the state.
“The Mob Movie Con is going to be an annual event on the East Coast and the West Coast, we just did one in New Jersey two weeks ago, next we’re going to do one in Vegas. Ice-T was one of the hosts. We highlighted all the major movies, it was sold out, and was a very cool event.”
Mota had some thoughts on why movies and TV shows about the Mafia are so popular.
“With the mob movies, there is that element of family, that element of loyalty. We certainly don’t want to say that was the right way to do things, but people like to watch them … it does intrigue us. I mean, why do people love The Soprano’s so much? He was a murderer, he wasn’t a good husband, he wasn’t a good father and he really wasn’t a good citizen. But he had the qualities of being a good friend to many of his friends,” said Mota.
As for the new film, Gotti II picks up the story after Gotti was sentenced to life in prison.
“It actually plays out perfect,” explained Mota. “Armand played it great, people really loved his portrayal. When he got sent to jail (in the first film), that’s where it ends. In the last scene, he’s combing his hair and saying ‘in 15 years, you’re gonna miss La Cossa Nostra, in 15 years, you’re gonna miss John Gotti.’ But it ends there. So you really don’t know what happens in those (prison) years. That’s what we want to tell.”
One unique facet of the production involves Gotti’s son, John Gotti, Jr. He’s serving as an advisor to the new film, and is already involved in the production. Mota explained that Gotti Jr. is interested in telling the story of how Gotti Sr. managed to continue to run the criminal organization from prison.
“We need to understand what happened when he was away, when he couldn’t see anyone for 23½ hours a day. How did he still run the largest mob family? In flashbacks, you’ll see what happened when he was 16 years old and his life changed. Why did he go into organized crime? Those are the stories that people are still very intrigued by.”
Motta continued, “We’re really just storytellers and our job is to tell the people what happened to John Gotti. How did he get to be that person? He was in the only Level 6 prison in the country, for the worst of the worst. What happens to a person who is stuck behind bars 23½ hours a day?”
Check out the original trailer below for a look back to the 1996 HBO film Gotti.