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Cutthroat Island

Theatrical release poster
Directed by Renny Harlin
Produced by Renny Harlin
Laurence Mark
Joel B. Michaels
James Gorman
Written by Screenplay:
Robert King
Marc Norman
Michael Frost Beckner
James Gorman
Bruce A. Evans
Raynold Gideon
Starring Geena Davis
Matthew Modine
Frank Langella
Maury Chaykin
Patrick Malahide
Stan Shaw
Rex Linn
Harris Yulin
Angus Wright
Ken Bones
Neil Patrick Harris
Music by John Debney
Cinematography Peter Levy
Editing by Derek Brechin
Florent Retz
Frank J. Urioste
Ralph E. Winters
Studio Carolco Pictures
Distributed by Metro-Goldwyn-Mayer
Lionsgate (through StudioCanal)
Release date(s) United States:
December 22, 1995
Running time 119 minutes
Country United States
Language English
Budget $92,000,000
Gross revenue $10,017,322

Cutthroat Island is a 1995 pirate-themed action film starring Geena Davis and directed by her then-husband Renny Harlin. The film is listed in the Guinness Book of World Records as the biggest box office flop of all time.[1]

This was the final film to be produced by Carolco Pictures before it was closed.



Female pirate Morgan Adams (Geena Davis) and her educated slave, William Shaw (Matthew Modine), are on a quest to recover the three portions of a treasure map. The treasure is hidden on the mysterious Cutthroat Island. Unfortunately, the final portion is held by her villainous uncle, Douglas ('Dawg') Brown (Frank Langella). Her crew is skeptical of her leadership abilities, so she must complete her quest before they mutiny against her. This is made more difficult by the efforts of the Royal Navy from Jamaica under the command of the self-serving Governor Ainslee (Patrick Malahide) to end her piratical career. On her ship, Morning Star, Morgan starts the voyage to Cutthroat Island.



Aftermath and legacy

Cutthroat Island had a total cost of $115 million and the total U.S. gross was approximately $10 million.[2] It was a contributing factor to the demise of the film's production company, Carolco Pictures, and of Davis as a bankable star.

The abject disaster of Cutthroat Island is also credited with significantly reducing the bankability and Hollywood production of pirate-themed films, which only recovered with the production of Disney's Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl in 2003.

This film was nominated for one Razzie Award, for Harlin as Worst Director.


Ironically, the film's swashbuckling music by John Debney has been critically acclaimed, compared with the works of Erich Wolfgang Korngold.[3][4][5] [6]

United Kingdom release

The British release of the film was originally rated 15 (no patron under the age of 15). Distributors decided to target a family audience and so over a minute of film was cut to get a PG certificate.[7]

See also


Further reading

  • Parish, James Robert (2006). Fiasco - A History of Hollywood’s Iconic Flops. Hoboken, New Jersey: John Wiley & Sons. ISBN-13 978-0-471-69159-4.  

External links

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