Kevin Costner has big plans for his long-awaited fourth directorial effort “Horizon,” an epic western that’s going into production at the end of August.
The “Yellowstone” star told Variety that the project, which is housed with Warner Bros. and New Line Cinema, is being planned as “four different movies” and that “about every three months, they’ll come out.”
“They’re all different films that all connect, so you’re watching a saga of these storylines that are happening,” said the actor, who was in London doing press for the UK launch of Paramount+.
Costner said the film is currently casting and “trying to fill up” 170 speaking roles.
Announced back in April, “Horizon” is Costner’s first directorial project since western “Open Range” in 2003. His two other films were “The Post Man” (1997), in which he starred as a drifter who dons a postman uniform to explore America, and the American Civil War-era classic “Dances With Wolves” (1990), which earned Costner the best director prize at the 1991 Oscars, along with six other Academy Awards.
Produced by Costner’s Territory Pictures outfit, “Horizon” will span 15 years in the settlement of America’s Western frontier, and focus on both the settlers as well as the Indigenous groups that first occupied the land.
“It’s a really beautiful story; it’s a hard story,” Costner told Variety. “It really involves a lot of women, to be honest. There are a lot of men in it, too, but the women are really strong in ‘Horizon.’ It’s just them trying to get by every day in a world that was impossibly tough. They were often [dragged] out to these places because that’s where the men wanted to go; women were following their men. They didn’t ask to be in these territories that were unsettled and dangerous, and life wasn’t easy. I’ve chosen to make sure that it was really obvious, that it wasn’t easy, and how vulnerable people were.”
Asked whether the film’s four-part configuration may lend “Horizon” to a streaming play, Costner said the project was sold as an “event television movie” but that “what [the studio does] with it will really be up to them because things change really quickly in how people want to see things and what they want to do.
“I’m happiest because at one point in TV — where you can get your largest audience — they’re going to get to see it the way I intended it to be seen. It will eventually be cut up into [hour-long episodes] or 42 minutes — however TV works. But their first viewing of it will be as four 2 hour and 45-minute movies. And every three months, one will come out. If you’re interested in those characters, the hope is that you’ll really want to watch the next one, but it won’t be in hour segments.”
“Horizon” currently has a shooting schedule of 220 days. While the first film will shoot this fall, the next three will be lensed from April 2023 with the trio of titles shooting “at the same time.”
“So, I’ll probably shoot for eight months,” said Costner. “It’s a mountain — a mountain of time.”
“I’m as pressed as I’ve ever been in my life in terms of the responsibilities and the amount of decisions I’m having to make every day, between doing what I’m doing every day for ‘Yellowstone’ and my own [work]. There’s a lot of people standing behind me waiting for me to make decisions and things like that.”
Costner is currently filming on Season 5 of Taylor Sheridan’s hit Paramount Network series “Yellowstone,” in which he plays John Dutton, whose family owns the largest ranch in Montana and must constantly fight to hold on to it.
Season 5, which will air later this year, will show Dutton facing intense pressure to hang on to his land, Costner said.
“It’s been set up in a sense that there’s so much pressure on what’s coming for his land that he’s going to have to do something, so we’re going to see what he did and does to stay ahead of it and I think that’s what John Dutton has to do but the pressures about the land have been, always for this family, [that they’ve] got to hold on to it with a level of violence,” said Costner.
“The walls pressing on [John] are environmentalists, the Native American issues, politicians, the public outcry for more land. So, he’s dealing with really modern problems.”
Costner said he “[doesn’t] know anything” about a potential Season 6, and didn’t elaborate on his thoughts about the show’s spin-offs “1883” and the forthcoming “1923.”
“I don’t know where it’s going,” Costner said. “I think people feel they hit a formula and they want to keep it up. I know they want to make a decent story of it. People are capitalizing on it and hopefully they’re doing it in an elegant, intelligent way.”