Chris Nashawaty
January 12, 1996 AT 05:00 AM EST

THERE’S A BUCK in swashbuckling, but that doesn’t necessarily mean moviegoers will shell out theirs to see plundering pirates. Case in point: Cutthroat Island’s scurvy-ridden $2.4 million Christmas weekend opening. Why did the Geena Davis saber rattler, which reportedly cost more than $100 million, run aground? There are plenty of possibilities: Maybe the movie stinks. Maybe director Renny Harlin (Die Hard 2, Cliffhanger) didn’t realize that there hasn’t been a quality pirate flick since 1952’s The Crimson Pirate, starring Burt Lancaster. Then again, maybe, just maybe, there’s a Hollywood curse on Davis and the collaborators on her Capra-esque comedy Hero, which sank without a trace in the fall of 1992. We admit, the Hero conspiracy theory may sound far-fetched to everyone but Oliver Stone, but take a look at the evidence — it’ll shiver ye timbers.

Cursed: Geena Davis In Hero: High-powered TV reporter who shows poor judgment. Post-Hero Fate: Oscar-winning actress (The Accidental Tourist) who shows poor judgment. Besides the aforementioned Cutthroat, there were 1994’s Angie and Speechless, which scraped in a combined $30 million at the box office.

Cursed: Andy Garcia. In Hero: Goes from nobody to somebody when he takes credit for a plane-crash rescue. Post-Hero Fate: Goes from nobody to somebody with the $50 million Meg Ryan hit When a Man Loves a Woman, then back to nobody with fall box office train wreck Steal Big, Steal Little.

Cursed: Dustin Hoffman. In Hero: Gets off his career-long Oscar track with weaselly role as unlikable hero. Post-Hero Fate: Stays off the Oscar track with part as unlikely action hero in Outbreak; rumored to be inside-joke inspiration for Get Shorty’s little man with a big ego, Martin Weir.

Cursed: Director Stephen Frears. With Hero: Deviated from his British art-house roots (My Beautiful Laundrette, Prick Up Your Ears, Sammy and Rosie Get Laid) for TriStar’s slick, big-budget comedy. Post-Hero Fate: Deviates yet again to direct slick, big-budget (and plagued-in-production) Julia Roberts-John Malkovich flick Mary Reilly, which TriStar hopes won’t get another Hero’s welcome.

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