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The Pirate Adventure Movie That Almost Ruined Geena Davis' Career

A big part of filmmaking involves taking risks, and there's every chance that there will be no return of investment on such a risk. From the studios and producers that finance a film to the actors and directors that stake their marketability and reputation on a project, it's a business filled with unpredictable outcomes. Sometimes, a movie can bomb so bad with critics, audiences, or both that it can cost an actor or a filmmaker their entire career. It's an unfortunate reality of the risk-reward system that Hollywood has been built on.

Geena Davis has had a remarkable career thus far. From top billing in financially successful films like "A League of Their Own," "Beetlejuice," and "Thelma & Louise" to an award-winning performance in "The Accidental Tourist," there's no denying that Davis has been a considerable box office draw, especially in past decades (per The Numbers). But even Davis is not an exception to the rule of what can happen when a filmmaking risk doesn't turn out how everyone involved hopes it will, and she has one particular black mark in her long and illustrious career.

Here's the film that nearly ruined Davis' career.

Cutthroat Island was a huge box-office flop

Before the days of the "Pirates of the Caribbean" series, Hollywood tried to make pirate adventure films accessible with a little film called "Cutthroat Island." The results were disastrous. Made on a budget of $98 million, "Cutthroat Island" only grossed a mere $10 million at the domestic box office during its entire run, according to Box Office Mojo. The film was considered one of the biggest box office bombs of all time, even holding a Guinness World Record for that particular feat at one point (per Insider). Geena Davis and Matthew Modine were the leads for the film, and it nearly ruined Davis' entire career (via Collider).

Still, Davis eventually recovered, going on to star in the "Stuart Little" movies, the first of which grossed an impressive $300 million at the box office. And while it may have bombed then, "Cutthroat Island" has found itself going through something of a reevaluation in modern times. On its 25th anniversary, Forbes made the case that it deserved to be "rediscovered" by audiences for its "lack of pretension" and elaborate practical effect thrills. Still, at the time, it did more damage to Davis and her career and arguably sapped all faith studios had in pirate-related films until the massive success of "Pirates of the Caribbean" happened.