Cutthroat Island is a 1995 pirate-themed action film starring Geena Davis and directed by her then-husband Renny Harlin. It was filmed in various locations around Malta.
Morgan Adams (Geena Davis
) and her learned slave, William Shaw (Matthew Modine
), are on a quest to recover the three portions of a treasure map
. The treasure
is hidden on a 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
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
was offered $15 million to play the lead role. When he withdrew, the same offer was made to Keanu Reeves
(who was busy playing Hamlet
) and Tom Cruise
. When Daniel Day-Lewis
turned the role down, the script was rewritten to make Davis' part bigger and the producers set their casting sights lower. Jeff Bridges
, Michael Keaton
, Charlie Sheen
, Liam Neeson
and Tim Robbins
all turned down $7 million to take the part before Renny Harlin and Carolco Pictures
finally agreed on Matthew Modine
to star opposite Davis for around $4 million. During one of the major fights of the film, the character played by Matthew Modine is struck in the head with a barrel, an accident that was left in the film. Modine stated he "had stitches for weeks after that endeavor."
The role of Dawg Brown was originally offered to Oliver Reed.
According to an interview with Empire Magazine, Davis and Harlin were both huge fans of V8 juice. When filming wrapped, the crew discovered a truck full of unopened cartons of V8 juice. Modine saw this as indicative of the wasteful excesses of the production.
Aftermath and legacy
had a budget that approached $100 million and the total U.S. gross was approximately $10 million. It was a contributing factor to the demise of the movie's production company
, Carolco Pictures, and of Davis as a bankable star
. It is also in the Guinness Book of World Records
as the biggest box office flop of all time (although more recent movies such as Stealth
lost more than $99 million).
The abject disaster of Cutthroat Island is also credited with significantly reducing the bankability and Hollywood production of piracy-themed films, which only recovered with the production of Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl in 2003.
United Kingdom release
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
was rated PG-13
for some strong pirate action/violence and brief sensuality.