Friday, June 15, 2012

Case Study #1

Where we look at the more
 obscure movies that bombed

A new post dedicated to movies 
that bombed for good reason, or 
no reason at all!

Cutthroat Island 

The story of a movie that 
killed a film studio......

In this new post, Movie Cemetery, I plan on featuring movies that were like toxic waste to everyone involved. 

These are films that I liked, but the public did not. Not all of them are career killers, but most come damn close.

Back in 1995, Renny Harlin and Geena Davis were hot. Smokin' hot, by Hollywoos standards. Geena was still a top box office seller with Thelma & Louise and Beetlejuice under her belt, while her new husband, Renny, had dazzled moviegoers with Diehard 2.

Together, they formed a production company and sought to make a pirate movie to end all pirate movies, but there were problems from the very start. 

Mainly, who would have the lead role, which is usually the very first thing producers decide and finalize, because the lead gets people into theater seats. 

And that's where things started to go horribly wrong. Enter Cutthroat Island.

To be fair, both Geena and Renny have stated publicly that they didn't want to do this film, but isn't that what they all say after an epic crash and burn? 

Michael Douglas was originally slated for the lead role, but backed out. And so did Keanu Reeves, Tom Cruise, Liam Neeson, Daniel Day Lewis, Jeff Bridges, Michael Keeton, Charlie Sheen, Tim Robbins and Ralph Fiennes. 

You know a production is in deep shit when Charlie Sheen passes....but Renny and Geena plowed on anyways, giving her the lead with Mathew Modine as her trusty sidekick. 


You can see where this is going. I mean, seriously, Modine was already doing TNT cable movies, and the producers chose to cast him in big pirate movie that desperately needed big names to draw people to the the theater. 

Modine's career wasn't even up to straight-to-DVD movies, much less a major production. Again, sigh.

And, of course, the carnage didn't end there....

Cutthroat Island, in today's money, cost roughly 200 million to make - and earned only 20 million back. Caralco Pictures filed for bankruptcy soon after and never made another film. 

MGM was up for sale at the time, and failed to market the movie properly, but I think the film's failure was a perfect storm of many shortcomings, at the forefront was using a female lead in what many consider to be a man's role. 

I am aware that sounds sexist, and I apologize in advance. Personally, I like strong female leads, but the world it seems, wasn't ready for a woman in charge of a bunch of pirate swashbucklers.

Go figure.

Renny Harlin went on to make two films that I like very much: Deep Blue Sea and Blast from the Past, but Cuthroat Island was the beginning of the end for Geena Davis.

After 1996's Long Kiss Goodnight, she was never again a bankable star.

I am one of the few people to see Cutthroat Island in the theater, and it was an okay film with a fantastic soundtrack scored by John Debney - but the dialogue is somewhat wooden and weird, and the movie would have benefited greatly with some actors with real chops.

A real treat - though - is to watch is Frank Langella  ham it up as the bad guy....he almost saves it, but not quite.

The movie, unlike other Hollywood failures, is worth owning on DVD, and is still a decent film today...even after all the Pirates of the Caribbean films that rejuvenated the pirate genre.

Please feel free to write in other suggestions 
for Film Cemetery.

No comments: