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The Next Reel • Season 13 • Series: 1995 Golden Raspberry Awards Worst Director Nominees • CutThroat Island

Film Details

Series: Director:
Year: Decade:

CutThroat Island

“Congratulations, Morgan. There’s another town you’ve destroyed.”

Getting it made:

After the success of Die Hard 2 and Cliffhanger, director Renny Harlin set out with determination to showcase his wife, Geena Davis, as an action star. To this end, he earnestly sought a swashbuckling pirate adventure script for her. Initially, Michael Frost Beckner and James Gorman delivered an early draft of CutThroat Island. Yet, as the project evolved, the need for extensive rewrites brought several additional writers on board.

Eager to secure Geena Davis for the lead role of pirate captain Morgan Adams, Harlin discovered that finding the right co-lead was surprisingly difficult. Michael Douglas initially agreed to star opposite Davis but departed due to concerns over screen time. Subsequently, the production team approached a host of major stars, including Tom Cruise, Keanu Reeves, Russell Crowe, Liam Neeson, and Daniel Day-Lewis. In the end, Matthew Modine clinched the role.

With the main cast set, filming began in the scenic locations of Malta and Thailand. Despite the idyllic settings, the production faced unexpected challenges, leading to significant cost overruns. Join us—Pete Wright and Andy Nelson—as we continue our exploration of the 1995 Golden Raspberry Awards Worst Director Nominees, this time focusing on Harlin’s CutThroat Island.

Here’s a hint at what we talk about:

In today’s episode, we dissect CutThroat Island‘s numerous production issues, especially the script’s constant changes and the dialogue that drew criticism. We also scrutinize the casting decisions and the understated chemistry between Davis and Modine. Furthermore, we acknowledge the film’s remarkable practical effects and action sequences, which stand out despite the movie’s overall problems. On top of that, we explore how this infamous box office failure contributed to the collapse of Carolco Pictures.

Here are a few other points in our discussion about CutThroat Island:

  • Analyzing Renny Harlin’s directorial strengths and weaknesses
  • Applauding the film’s exceptional production design and cinematography
  • Considering why the film may not have aged as well as some hoped
  • Pondering who else might have been cast in the lead roles

In conclusion, CutThroat Island is a captivating yet imperfect pirate adventure, entertaining despite its many setbacks. To that end, it serves as an insightful case study of a big-budget film gone astray. We found our analysis to be thoroughly engaging, and we’re excited to share it with you. So, be sure to listen and then join us for the conversation. The Next Reel—when the movie ends, our conversation begins!

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