Hollywood loves stories of failure almost more than it loves success. The tales of flops such as Heaven’s Gate, Ishtar and The Bonfire of the Vanities have spawned endless conversations, magazine articles and no few books. But the story of a flop is often distilled down into over-simplified factoids and circumstances. In the broad public view, all most people tend to know is that a movie was over-ambitious or poorly conceived, and that it tanked, possibly taking companies and careers with it.

One of the legendary flops is Renny Harlin‘s Cutthroat Island, a 1995 pirate film that starred his then-wife Geena Davis and actor Matthew Modine. The film cost almost a hundred million to make, and raked in only about one-tenth that amount. Stories have flown that the movie’s failure was responsible for the demise of production company Carolco. That company previously made Basic Instinct, Cliffhanger, Terminator 2, and other successful films, as well as another oft-discussed dog, Showgirls, released only months before Cutthroat Island.

In a new interview to promote his current film 5 Days of War, Harlin talks candidly about the experience of making Cutthroat Island, and the fact of it being a financial disaster. His statements are frank. While he indicts Carolco for making the film when he says the company was insolvent, he also accepts a certain arrogance of his own, inflated by the success of Die Hard 2 and Cliffhanger, as being part of the problem. But, he says, if he’d been allowed to walk away, the movie never would have happened at all. Read More »