Kevin Costner debuts 'Horizon' as 'Yellowstone' resumes filming: How the star is charting his comeback on the big screen

Costner appears to be setting the tone for his reemergence.

Kevin Costner self-financed his four-part film franchise,
Kevin Costner self-financed his four-part film franchise Horizon: An American Saga. (©Warner Bros/Courtesy Everett Collection)

One day after a teary-eyed Kevin Costner debuted his self-financed film Horizon: An American Saga at the Cannes Film Festival to a seven-minute standing ovation, Paramount Network made its own announcement.

The streamer revealed that its Costner-starring vehicle, Yellowstone (aka the “most popular series on TV”), had resumed production after an extended hiatus. That much-discussed break, which began in January 2023 after the end of part 1 of Season 5, came amid two Hollywood strikes, reported script delays and, perhaps most notably, an alleged rift with Costner over his film Horizon.

The fact that the announcement came on the heels of Costner’s big night, a world away from the Dutton Ranch in Montana, seemed to highlight the distance that has allegedly come between Yellowstone creator Taylor Sheridan and his leading man — who exited the drama last year but may or may not be on board for the show’s final episodes.

Production for the second half of the Western drama’s fifth and final season kicked off May 20, according to the Hollywood Reporter. Those episodes are expected to air in November.

The Paramount series, created by Sheridan, tells the multigenerational story of the Duttons, a family of ranchers who go head-to-head with politicians, land developers as well as a neighboring Native American tribe, to keep the ranch’s sprawling acreage in the family.

Over the past few years, Yellowstone’s production has come under scrutiny as Sheridan has simultaneously moved forward with the show’s prequels, 1883 and 1923, as well as announced spin-off series 6666. With Sheridan also serving as creator, writer, producer and more on multiple series, including Tulsa King and Mayor of Kingstown, he’s been singled out when it comes to script and production delays.

However, it was Sheridan’s assertions about Costner and his commitments to the four-part drama Horizon, that have arguably gotten the most attention — especially as Coster’s participation in the show he’s headlined since its inception has been called into question.

“My last conversation with Kevin was that he had this passion project he wanted to direct,” Sheridan told the Hollywood Reporter. “He and the network were arguing about when he could be done with Yellowstone. I said, ‘We can certainly work a schedule toward [his preferred exit date],’ which we did.”

Costner, however, saw it differently.

Kevin Costner and Kelly Reilly
Kevin Costner last appeared with Kelly Reilly in Season 5 of Yellowstone. (Paramount Network/courtesy Everett Collection)

After declining to comment on multiple reports about his possible Yellowstone exit, Costner has made the recent decision to speak openly about it.

“I haven’t felt good about it the last year, what with the way they’ve talked about it,” Costner told Deadline, adding that he “took a beating” from Sheridan and the show’s producers in the press. “It wasn’t truthful. So now I’m talking about a little bit about what the real truth of it was.”

The truth, according to Costner, centered on when he could shoot Yellowstone and how he could make that work with his Horizon schedule, which he concedes was a factor.

“I made a contract for Seasons 5, 6 and 7. In February, after a two- or three-month negotiation, they made another contract. They wanted to redo that one, and instead of Seasons 6 and 7, it was 5A and 5B, and maybe we’ll do 6. They weren’t able to make those,” he told the outlet. “Horizon was set in the middle, but Yellowstone was first position. I fit [Horizon] into the gaps. They just kept moving their gaps.”

Costner’s film Horizon: An American Saga is actually four films that the Oscar-winning actor and director self-financed at $38 million. Like another famous director who premiered his self-financed work at Cannes, Costner dipped into his personal assets to fund the project.

“I know they say I’ve got $20 million of my own money in this movie,” Costner told GQ, referring to earlier reports. “It’s not true. I’ve got now about $38 million in the film.”

To get that much money, Costner told the outlet he had mortgaged a 10-acre beachfront property in Santa Barbara, Calif.

Horizon is familiar territory for Costner in more ways than one. The story itself, chronicling America’s violent westward expansion around the time of the Civil War, examines not only the American West but also how that played out among the Native American tribes whose homeland was being threatened.

Costner has dealt with similar storylines on Yellowstone but also in his directorial debut, Dances With Wolves, which went on to win seven Oscars, including Best Picture and Best Director in 1991.

Horizon will premiere its first two parts this summer, with the first opening in theaters June 28 and the second on Aug. 16. Part 3 is in production with 4 on the way, and neither have release dates yet.

While Costner said that he and former wife Christine Baumgartner, with whom he shares three of his seven children, agreed to mortgage the property to finance Horizon, the issue has raised questions about whether or not the financial decision played a role in his 2023 divorce.

“No, they’re not related,” Costner told GQ.

Comparing his quest to make his American saga to Moby-Dick, he added: “The white whale obsessed [Capt. Ahab] so much that he would take everybody down with them. I take nobody down with me. I take the risk myself.”

So, will Costner appear in the final episodes of Yellowstone?

Although as of now Costner has exited the show, the actor told Deadline that he’d be open to the idea of returning.

“Am I open to coming back?” he asked the outlet. “I’ve never been in a position to tell them what to do. I can only do what I can do.”