Why Horizon Has Took Kevin Costner 35 Years To Make (& How Yellowstone Helped)


Horizon is Kevin Costner’s pet project which took him 35 years to get made, and it was the success of Yellowstone that finally let it happen.

Horizon took Kevin Costner 35 years to get off the ground, and it’s almost certain it wouldn’t have happened if not for Yellowstone’s success. Costner has appeared in just about every genre throughout his career, from romantic dramas to expensive blockbusters; he even snuck in a horror movie with 2009’s The New Daughter. He’s mostly closely linked to Westerns, having starred in several of them throughout his career (with Dances with Wolves being the most famous) and fronting the acclaimed miniseries Hatfields & McCoys. Of course, his biggest project in recent years came with joining the cast of Yellowstone.

The Taylor Sheridan-created drama arrived in 2018 and soon became one of the biggest shows on television. The fact a star of Costner’s caliber would agree to be in Yellowstone was one reason people tuned in, and again reinforced his Western credentials. This late-career resurgence has given Costner the chance to finally pull the trigger on Horizon, a series of four movies that takes place during the pre and post-American Civil War expansion of the American West. Costner is leaving Yellowstone after season 5 to focus on his ambitious saga, even though it was indirectly responsible for giving him the chance to finally make it.

Kevin Costner Really Struggled To Get Financing To Make Horizon

In a dual Deadline interview with Costner and Francis Ford Coppola, Costner recounted the origins of Horizon. According to the star/director, it first came to him as a single movie in 1988 and would have been a “conventional” two-hander Western. At the time, he couldn’t get any studios interested in producing it – which sounds incredible following the success of Dances with Wolves. Costner tried to make it again following 2003’s Open Range – which he also directed – but while he got some interest in the project, he still couldn’t come to terms over budget.

The long delay is part of the reason Horizon evolved into a four-part project, with Costner and a screenwriter later expanding the story around the early 2010s. It’s fair to say Costner’s star wasn’t burning nearly as bright in the ’00s as it was in the previous decades, but it speaks to how unwilling studios were to gamble on Westerns that even he couldn’t mount Horizon during his heyday.

Kevin Costner Took Out A Mortgage To Help Fund Horizon

The big thesis behind the aforementioned interview is that both Coppola and Costner are putting their own money into sprawling, $100 million+ projects. Like Costner with Horizon, Coppola has long dreamed of making his sci-fi epic Megalopolis and eventually decided to fund it entirely himself, partly by selling some of his wine empire. Costner has some additional investors funding Horizon, but like Coppola is taking a big role of the dice with his own money.


According to the interview, Costner has mortgaged 10 acres of his waterfront property, deciding a plan to build his next house could wait. Filming on the first part of the series has already been completed, while work on Horizon: An American Saga Part 2 commenced in early 2023. Time will tell how successful Costner’s gamble will be, but after waiting decades to get the project made, the star is due some respect for literally putting his money where his mouth is.

How Yellowstone Helped Kevin Costner Get Horizon Made

Costner never disappeared as a star, but following a string of expensive projects in the late ’90s, and early ’00s, his career took a noticeable dip. In the last decade or so it became more common to see him playing a wise mentor or a father (often both) in films like Man of Steel or Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit. Yellowstone is a success that nobody could have predicted, and with its subsequent spinoffs, the franchise appears to grow bigger each year.

Yellowstone’s John Dutton is a part that was tailormade for Costner, with the character feeling like a man from another era. The show reminded viewers what they loved about Costner as a performer, and gave him his biggest win as a leading man in years. It’s safe to presume that fronting one of the most discussed television shows in the world also helped him secure the additional financing that was needed to get Horizon moving after 30 years.

It would help the Horizon quadrilogy if Costner was still on Yellowstone, though the actor’s future involvement with the Paramount series is still in question. Season 5 was always meant to be split in two, but with the first half having already come and gone, and Costner’s commitment to Horizon keeping him away from filming his planned scenes for Yellowstone season 5 part 2, there’s now no guarantee he will return to shoot more scenes as Dutton. Hopefully, whatever disagreements are happening between the star and the showrunners can get resolved, as it would be great for Costner to end his time as Dutton on a high note.

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