John Travolta has fired back at reports suggesting his new movie about mob boss John Gotti has been pulled from Lionsgate's release schedule.

Gotti was set to debut on 15 December (17), but disappeared from the film company's schedule on Tuesday (05Dec17), after executives sold the project back to bosses at the production company Emmett/Furla/Oasis.

And now Travolta is clarifying reports surrounding the news, insisting he simply wanted the movie to have a wider release than the one that was planned by Lionsgate bosses. He also reveals the plan has been in place for several weeks.

"Unfortunately, the reports were speculation bordering on fake news," the actor tells Deadline. "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.

"(Producer Edward Walson) 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. That is the simple explanation for this."

"It wasn't dropped," he continues. "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 (sic). 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."

Travolta and Walson are close to working out a deal with an unnamed distributor and are now planning to debut the movie at the Cannes Film Festival next year (18).

The film spans several decades of Gotti's life, showing his rise from poverty to becoming the leader of the powerful Gambino crime family in New York City. Gotti managed to avoid jail time throughout the 1980s but was incarcerated for life in 1992. Among his charges was a conviction for five murders and illegal gambling. He died of throat cancer while still in prison 10 years later.