Cutthroat Island

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Cutthroat Island
Cutthroat island ver2.jpg
Before there was Pirates of the Carribean, we got this one cut to the throat.
Genre: Adventure
Directed By: Renny Harlin
Written By: Robert King
Marc Norman
Starring: Geena Davis
Matthew Modine
Frank Langella
Maury Chaykin
Patrick Malahide
Stan Shaw
Photography: Color
Distributed By: MGM/UA Distribution Co.
Release Date: December 22, 1995
Runtime: 124 minutes
Country: United States
Budget: $98 million
Box Office: $10 million

Cutthroat Island is a 1995 romantic comedy action-adventure film directed by Renny Harlin (the director of Die Hard 2 and Cliffhanger). The film was written by Robert King and Marc Norman. The film is based on a story written by Michael Frost Beckner, James Gorman, Bruce A. Evans, and Raymond Gideon. The film stars Geena Davis, Matthew Modine, and Frank Langella. 


Feisty Morgan Adams (Geena Davis) inherits her late buccaneer father's galleon and one-third of a map to buried treasure located on Cutthroat Island. The map had been tattooed on her father's scalp, and to find the treasure, she must locate and scalp his two brothers. But, Morgan's swashbuckling uncle, Dawg Brown (Frank Langella) wants the treasure for himself and does battle with his headstrong niece and her unwilling accomplice, Latin-speaking physician William Shaw (Matthew Modine).

Why It Has Been Cutthroat

  1. The film tries way too hard to be an awesome pirate film and fails on almost every level.
  2. The story is very poorly written and confusing.
  3. Our protagonist isn't that interesting.
  4. The film had a lot of trouble with production.
  5. It has cool pirate concepts, but managed to screw the film up.
  6. The two main characters have no chemistry.
  7. The film went through multiple rewrites and recasting.
  8. Tiresome supporting characters.
  9. The film permanently dented ideas for future pirate films until the release of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl in 2003 which revived the genre.
  10. Like Showgirls which was released earlier the same year, the film's negative reception had killed off Carolco Pictures, the production company behind this film.

Redeeming Qualities

  1. The pirate fight scenes are pretty good for what they had to be.
  2. The special effects are good.
  3. The stunt work is good.
  4. The musical score is well done.


Cuthhroat Island received mixed-to-negative reviews from critics and audiences alike. It currently holds a 38% "rotten" rating on Rotten Tomatoes with an average of 4.43 and a critic consensus that states, "Cutthroat Island may aspire towards the earnest thrills of classic swashbucklers, but a distinct lack of charm and stilted script make this adventure a joyless hodgepodge of the pirate genre's flotsam and jetsam." Janet Maslin of The New York Times stated in her review that "It's not possible to believe that Ms. Davis is the highly respected captain of a pirate ship, and it's not even fun to try." Despite most reviews being negative, Roger Ebert of The Chicago Sun-Times gave the film a three out of four stars and said "This is, in short, a satisfactory movie – but it doesn't transcend its genre, and it's not surprising or astonishing. I saw it because that was my job and, having seen it, I grant its skill, and award it three stars on that basis. But unless you're really into pirate movies, it's not a necessary film."

Box Office

The movie only made about $10 million, compared to its $98 million budget, making it one of the biggest box-office bombs in history. The losses led to the shutdown of its producer, Carolco Pictures.



  • This was the final film to be produced by Carolco Pictures, because it was the greatest box-office bomb in history back then. However, that changed when the film's box office returns were surpassed by Dreamworks' catastrophic Sinbad: Legend of the Seven Seas in 2003 (the film that caused Dreamworks to abandon traditional animation) and held the record for being the greatest box-office bomb in history adjusted for inflation and lost $89 million, which is $143 million in modern money. As a result of poor box office returns for Cutthroat Island, as well as selling off the rights to another fellow flop which was Showgirls, Carolco Pictures had to file for bankruptcy.
  • Carolco Pictures filed for bankruptcy a week before the film was theatrically released. Afterwards, the studio was acquired by StudioCanal.

External links


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