Cutthroat Island Preview

“It’s gonna be a hell of a lot of work, I mean,” Patrick clarifies as he starts in on a pretty sweet boolean array. Jamie’s head is spinning. “Rabbit. Flu shot. Somebody talk to me,” he exclaims in exasperation. The coding jargon Patrick is throwing around is more suited to a haxxor than little ol’ Jamie. Rachel pats him on the shoulder and suggests that he just work on the rocking tune. No need to say more as Jamie whips out his harmonica, gives it a quick toot, and begins to warm up his angelic voice with a series of complicated and largely unnecessary vocal exercises. The scene is electric. Patrick on one side, his eyes glazing over like dolls eyes as he spits hot fire on the k’board. Jamie on the other, a VR headset strapped to his head and he composes in 3D-4K. “It’s a game about a couple of underdogs who come from behind to save the universe,” Patrick says, coding in their gritty origin story. “Yeah, underdogs with abs for days and it opens with the titular song, Starring Jason Derulo: Just a couple of jokesters living in the bayou making ends meet busking on the street, starring Jason Derulo. Brothers in arms, armed to the teeth, justice and truth are all that they seek, starring Jason Derulo,” Jamie croons, tears in his eyes. “Nice half rhyme,” comments Patrick as his code springs to life. Patrick is in the zone, guided by the lyrical picture that Jamie has painted about the legendary lives of Rich & Poe (who definitely didn’t die). He waves Jamie away. “Go down the street to the local pirate radio stations and start getting some underground buzz going for this game. I got some 1337 coding to do.” Jamie shrugs, “shiver me timbers.” That’s right! We’re watching the notable box office bomb, Cutthroat Island, which had a tie-in video game that was critically panned. It barely qualifies for BMT, but it doesn’t feel that way as the production was such a disaster that a studio collapsed. Should be fun. Let’s go!

Cutthroat Island (1995) – BMeTric: 38.7; Notability: 72

StreetCreditReport.com – BMeTric: top 12.0%; Notability: top 4.4%; Rotten Tomatoes: top 33.5% Higher BMeT: Showgirls, Vampire in Brooklyn, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, Batman Forever, Congo, Mighty Morphin Power Rangers: The Movie, Tank Girl, Under Siege 2: Dark Territory, The Babysitter, Judge Dredd, Nine Months, A Kid in King Arthur’s Court, Operation Dumbo Drop, Jade, The Scarlet Letter, Johnny Mnemonic, Man of the House, Candyman: Farewell to the Flesh, Virtuosity, Money Train, and 1 more; Higher Notability: Batman Forever, Congo; Lower RT: A Kid in King Arthur’s Court, It Takes Two, The Hunted, The Tie That Binds, Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers, The Pebble and the Penguin, Bushwhacked, Johnny Mnemonic, Vampire in Brooklyn, The Scarlet Letter, Four Rooms, Three Wishes, Jade, Canadian Bacon, Dr. Jekyll and Ms. Hyde, Houseguest, Man of the House, Reckless, Rough Magic, Two Much and 42 more; Notes: A higher BMeTric than I would have thought considering it is mostly known for being a giant flop as opposed to an actual bad movie. Hugh Notability again! I do love hitting up those Notability films. We’ve seen the other higher ones from 1995 as well it looks like.

RogerEbert.com – 3.0 stars – 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. Sorry.

(An incredible score from Ebert, coming off the top rope. So let me get this straight … if I like swashbuckling adventure then I’ll like this film. Alright then … it sounds like a good movie.)

Trailer – https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IV5JD490ZL4

(Oh boy, the 1812 Overture is something else in that trailer. What a very very strange choice. It comes across as cartoonish and cliche, right? Even the trailer looks cheap as far as swashbuckling action is concerned. I guess that’s to be expected when your production company is teetering on bankruptcy.)

Directors – Renny Harlin – (Known For: Cliffhanger; Die Hard 2; Deep Blue Sea; The Long Kiss Goodnight; A Nightmare on Elm Street 4: The Dream Master; The Dyatlov Pass Incident; Cleaner; Skiptrace; Prison; 5 Days of War; Bodies at Rest; Gu jian qi tan zhi liu yue zhao ming; Future BMT: Exorcist: The Beginning; 12 Rounds; Mindhunters; The Adventures of Ford Fairlane; BMT: The Legend of Hercules; Driven; The Covenant; Cutthroat Island; Razzie Notes: Nominee for Worst Director in 1991 for The Adventures of Ford Fairlane; in 1996 for Cutthroat Island; in 2002 for Driven; in 2005 for Exorcist: The Beginning; and in 2015 for The Legend of Hercules; Notes: Just inducted his film The Legend of Hercules into the BMT Hall of Fame. Has an extramarital affair with his assistant which resulted in his son Luke and subsequent divorce.)

Writers – Michael Frost Beckner (story) – (Known For: Spy Game; Sniper: Ultimate Kill; Prince Valiant; Future BMT: Sniper; BMT: Cutthroat Island; Notes: Only gets credited for the many straight-to-video Sniper sequels as far as films are concerned, but does some television work, most recently the mini-series To Appomattox.)

James Gorman (story) – (BMT: Cutthroat Island; Notes: Produced Sniper, so I would guess he’s a writing partner of Beckner to a degree. His only writing credit, but he produced a few things like Gunman starring Christopher Lambert and Mario Van Peebles, who would then both star in Highlander III a year later.)

Bruce A. Evans and Raynold Gideon (story) – (Known For: Stand by Me; Starman; Mr. Brooks; Made in Heaven; A Man, a Woman and a Bank; Future BMT: Kuffs; BMT: Jungle 2 Jungle; Cutthroat Island; Notes: Nominated as a team for an Oscar for Stand by Me. They haven’t written anything since 2007.)

Robert King (screenplay) – (Known For: Vertical Limit; The Nest; Under the Boardwalk; Bloodfist; Phantom of the Mall: Eric’s Revenge; Dragon Fire; Future BMT: Speechless; Clean Slate; Red Corner; BMT: Cutthroat Island; Notes: Nominated for four Emmys for The Good Wife. His career started with cheap horror and bad martial arts films, but he has a few big budget films made in the late 90s.)

Marc Norman (screenplay) – (Known For: Shakespeare in Love; The Killer Elite; Breakout; The Aviator; Oklahoma Crude; Zandy’s Bride; BMT: Cutthroat Island; Notes: Won the Oscar for Shakespeare in Love. Wrote a single episode of the original Mission: Impossible in 1970.)

Actors – Geena Davis – (Known For: Ava; Beetlejuice; Thelma & Louise; A League of Their Own; The Long Kiss Goodnight; Tootsie; Stuart Little; Earth Girls Are Easy; When Marnie Was There; Fletch; Quick Change; Stuart Little 2; In a World…; The Accidental Tourist; Marjorie Prime; Accidental Hero; Don’t Talk to Irene; Angie; Me Him Her; Accidents Happen; Future BMT: Transylvania 6-5000; Speechless; BMT: Cutthroat Island; Notes: Was married to Renny Harlin at the time. Won an Oscar for the accidental tourist, and was nominated for Thelma & Louise. Is an Olympic level archer.)

Matthew Modine – (Known For: Wrong Turn; The Dark Knight Rises; Full Metal Jacket; Breaking News in Yuba County; Notting Hill; Sicario: Day of the Soldado; Any Given Sunday; 47 Meters Down; Vision Quest; Transporter 2; Short Cuts; Pacific Heights; Married to the Mob; Memphis Belle; Speed Kills; Backtrace; The Hotel New Hampshire; Birdy; Army of One; Foster Boy; Future BMT: The Divorce; Mrs. Soffel; Gross Anatomy; Fluke; BMT: Cutthroat Island; Jobs; Bye Bye Love; Notes: Probably most notable recently for his supporting role in Stranger Things. Both his son and daughter are in the industry. Ruby Modine in particular was in 20 episodes of Shameless. Boman modine is a director.)

Frank Langella – (Known For: The Trial of the Chicago 7; Red Dragon; Captain Fantastic; Lolita; Superman Returns; All Good Things; Noah; Unknown; The Ninth Gate; Small Soldiers; Draft Day; Wall Street: Money Never Sleeps; Muppets Most Wanted; Good Night, and Good Luck.; The Box; Frost/Nixon; Dave; 5 to 7; The Tale of Despereaux; Grace of Monaco; Future BMT: Junior; Eddie; Brainscan; 1492: Conquest of Paradise; Sweet November; BMT: Body of Evidence; Masters of the Universe; Cutthroat Island; Notes: Nominated for an Oscar for Frost/Nixon. Was a stage actor, and somewhat notable for taking some specifically weird roles, like Skeleor (in absurd makeup) in The Masters of the Universe.)

Budget/Gross – $98,000,000 / Domestic: $10,017,322 (Worldwide: $10,017,322)

(Yeah it is a notorious catastrophe. I actually think it was considered the biggest financial loss for a motion picture in history for quite a while. It managed to sink a genre (pirate films, until Pirates of the Caribbean) and a production house (Carolco Pictures).)

Rotten Tomatoes – 38% (15/40): 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.

(I mean, I don’t really see that many pirate films so I have a district feeling I might just like this one. I can’t say I’m going to scoff at it being like “so trite, I’ve see it all before. Blah.” Because I haven’t … I’ve pretty much just seen Pirates of the Caribbean. Reviewer Highlight: In this $90m revisionist swashbuckler, we get Geena Davis doing the all-action honours, and a hotchpotch script that seems to think pirate movies are so funny in themselves the need for more humour is superfluous. – Trevor Johnston, Time Out)

Poster – Pirates of the Cutthroat Island

(I love this. I would unironically hang this on my wall… alright, there would be a bit of irony involved. But still. Font! Framing! Color scheme! Adventure galore! It’s got it all. A.)

Tagline(s) – The Course Has Been Set. There Is No Turning Back. Prepare Your Weapons. Summon Your Courage. Discover the Adventure of a Lifetime! (F)

(As usual, this travesty of a tagline is not featured on the actually good poster. You know why? Because they knew this was absolute shit and wouldn’t let it get near that poster.)

Keyword – pirate

Top 10: Guardians of the Galaxy (2014), The Goonies (1985), Aquaman (2018), Guardians of the Galaxy: Vol. 2 (2017), Captain America: The Winter Soldier (2014), The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003), The Princess Bride (1987), Hook (1991), Pirates of the Caribbean: The Curse of the Black Pearl (2003), Moana (2016)

Future BMT: 66.2 Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles III (1993), 59.6 Virus (1999), 42.2 Pan (2015), 39.4 Into the Blue (2005), 39.4 Six Days Seven Nights (1998), 35.5 Playmobil: The Movie (2019), 35.3 Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008), 34.0 Robinson Crusoe (2016), 31.2 The Ice Pirates (1984), 29.8 The Pirate Movie (1982);

BMT: Pirates of the Caribbean: Salazar’s Revenge (2017), Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides (2011), Conan the Barbarian (2011), The Expendables 3 (2014), Rambo (2008), Epic Movie (2007), Cyborg (1989), Cutthroat Island (1995), Miss Congeniality 2: Armed & Fabulous (2005), Double Impact (1991)

(Nothing says pirate like Pirates of the Caribbean. I’m excited for Virus, which we are actually watching next! So that’s fun. Swashbuckling pirates to space pirates I presume.)

Welcome to Earf (HoE Number 16) – The shortest path through The Movie Database cast lists using only BMT films is: Matthew Modine is No. 2 billed in Cutthroat Island and No. 1 billed in Bye Bye Love, which also stars Amy Brenneman (No. 5 billed) who is in 88 Minutes (No. 4 billed), which also stars Leelee Sobieski (No. 3 billed) who is in Here on Earth (No. 1 billed) => 2 + 1 + 5 + 4 + 3 + 1 = 16. If we were to watch The Art of War, Murder at 1600, and The Glass House we can get the HoE Number down to 15.

Notes – Oliver Reed was originally cast as Mordechai Fingers. He was fired after getting in a bar fight and mooning at Geena Davis.

Matthew Modine described Oliver Reed – “I’d heard these stories about Oliver Reed I think it is all bunk. Oliver was a gentleman. Sure, he had a reputation as a man who enjoyed a drink. But only off set. His reputation as an actor is stellar. Professional. I stand by that. God rest his soul.”

Morgan Adams’s flag was flown by “Calico” Jack Rackham, one of the only Caribbean pirates to have women on his crew (Anne Bonny and Mary Read). He later turned his ship over to them.

Dawg Brown’s flag is the oldest known “Jolly Roger” flag, flown by Captain Emmanuel Wynne.

According to “The Guinness Book of Records”, this film is the biggest financial loss ever. It cost $115 million to make, and made $10 million at the box office, a loss of $105 million.

Several years later, Matthew Modine explained some of the reasons why the film’s costs spiraled out-of-control. Among other things, dozens of cases of V8 juice were shipped out to Malta, expressly for Renny Harlin and Geena Davis. An entire room of V8 was left towards the end of the shoot, so it was served to everybody. Every scene had three cameras in constant use, resulting in yards and yards of film used for every shot.

When Renny Harlin fired the chief camera operator following a dispute, more than two dozen crew members quit.

Michael Douglas originally agreed to do the film on two conditions: filming had to start immediately because he was only available for a limited time, and his character had to have the same amount of screen time as Geena Davis. Douglas eventually pulled out, claiming that Davis’s role was expanded at his character’s expense. Davis wanted to quit when Douglas did, but she was contractually obligated to finish the film. After Douglas quit, Renny Harlin was so preoccupied with trying to find a male lead that set construction and script work were done without his input. Harlin didn’t like what he saw when shooting was set to begin, leading to massive, expensive rebuilding and rewriting.

Renny Harlin is famous for pushing actors to do their own stunts whenever possible. While promoting the film, Geena Davis appeared on talk shows with clips of her doing stunts over and over (including one take where she fell out of the window too soon, rolled down the roof and under the carriage) and explained the bruises and injuries she sustained while filming. (Jesus, that botched stunt sounds terrifying)

Carolco Pictures, which financed the film, filed for bankruptcy six weeks before it reached theaters.

At the time, Renny Harlin was dating Geena Davis, who was known for light comedies. He convinced Mario Kassar to cast Davis as the lead, sure it would turn her into an action-adventure star. The couple married prior to production, and affectionately called the movie their ‘honeymoon’.

Renny Harlin spent $1 million of his own money to rewrite the script. Carolco was in so much debt that they couldn’t afford it.

Frank Langella considers Dawg to be one of his three favourite roles (the other two are Richard Nixon in Frost/Nixon (2008) and Skeletor in Masters of the Universe (1987)), because he got to not only be a pirate, but a scenery-chewing over-the-top bad guy pirate.

Carolco Pictures had finished pre-production on another mega production at the time, called ‘Crusade’, to be directed by Paul Verhoeven and starring Arnold Schwarzenegger. Filming was slated to begin, but the movie was canceled at the last moment, when Carolco could not finance two blockbusters at the same time. They opted to do this film, which was supposed to have been less costly, but which later went massively over budget, and put the already ailing studio further in debt. Verhoeven went on to make Showgirls (1995) instead, largely as a favor to Mario Kassar in an attempt to save Carolco from financial downfall. After both Cutthroat Island and Showgirls bombed at the box office, the studio was bankrupted, and Crusade was shelved indefinitely.

One of a number of pirate movies made between the mid 1970s and mid 1990s which were a flop at the box-office. The other films were Pirates (1987), Yellowbeard (1983), Scarlet Buccaneer (1976), Savage Islands (1983), The Pirate Movie (1982). (None of those are big films. The actual closest to a big budget Pirate film in the 80s/90s is probably Hook)

Awards – Nominee for the Razzie Award for Worst Director (Renny Harlin, 1996)