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Kevin Costner Gambled His Career to Make the Western Saga 'Horizon,' and the First Trailer is Straight Fire

Tommaso Boddi. Getty Images.

At the risk of leaning too hard into the "Dad TV" phenomenon, Yellowstone has been one of the true pinnacles of the genre. And a godsend to guys who grew up on a steady diet of stoic men doing masculine things on TV, only to find a landscape mostly populated by weak, impotent twits getting emasculated by everyone around them, every episode. I mean, just in my lifetime we went from James T. Kirk saving entire planets and scoring alien snizz all over the galaxy, to Jamie from Progressive wearing apron everywhere. So a show focused on a patriarch stopping at nothing to save his family ranch and preserve his way of life, struck a lot of Dad TV chords. 

Yellowstone has also been a professional peak for Kevin Costner in a career full of them. In my opinion, his finest work. Costner as his Costneriest. Enough to make you look back on his body of work with new appreciation. And make you realize he's been one of the great movie stars of all time. Perhaps one of the last of them. He went through his Jock Fantasy phase (Field of Dreams, Bull Durham, Tin Cup, For the Love of the Game), his Legal Drama period (No Way Out, JFK), and Yellowstone harkaned back to his Western era (Dances With Wolves, Open Range). 

I put harken in the past tense, because there have been a ton reports that Costner might not be back for another season. Though aside from some talk about the contract talks not going well, no one has really explained why such a successful show might lose its main character. 

Well we just got a look at the reason why he probably won't be back. And the reason might be very, very worth the sacrifice. Because holy smokes, does this look like the trailer for a potential masterpiece:

Variety - Kevin Costner revealed the trailer for “Horizon: An American Saga,” the first of his planned four-part epic about the American West. …

“Horizon” chapters 1 and 2 will have a dual theatrical release from Warner Bros., with the first film hitting theaters on June 28 and the second debuting August 16.  …

The three minute trailer introduces “Horizon’s” ensemble cast — led by Costner’s Hayes Elllison, who rides into the frame with the stunning landscapes of Utah on full display — and tees up the action as the film explores the triumphs and tragedies brought on by the ideology of Manifest Destiny. The clip shares a first look at his co-stars Sienna Miller, Sam Worthington, Jena Malone, Abbey Lee, Michael Rooker, Danny Huston, Luke Wilson, Isabelle Fuhrman, Jeff Fahey, Will Patton, Tantanka Means, Owen Crow Shoe, Ella Hunt and Jamie Campbell Bower. …

Because he was so passionate about this story, Costner said he eventually realized that he had to make it which mean looking to himself financially to do it. 

“Not the smartest thing,” he admitted, alluding to the personal cost of risking his 10-acre Santa Barbara home to fund the movie series.

The trailer had me at hello. The Civil War era Old West. A clash of cultures. People on both sides of the conflict fighting to scratch out an existence in an unforgiving wilderness. Rugged, noble men. Gorgeous women. Violence. Loss. Frontier "justice." Then you add those locations (it was shot in Utah) and that cast, and I'm ready to camp out on the sidewalk to be first in line. 

And most impressive of all is what Costner is putting on the line to create this cinematic universe. Most 69-year-olds would just take a paycheck to keep making his wildly successful TV show, go back to his 10-acre estate and sleep on a pallet of money every night. To just keep showing up to awards shows and premieres and get his ass kissed by lesser talents. But this one has chosen to unzip, whip it out, and lay it on the line. For four movies, no less. Historically accurate period pieces, which as film genres go, is not exactly a license to print money. I mean, there's a reason the savviest business people in the industry refused to finance this little passion project. So he's risking financial ruin because it's just that important to him. And you have to respect that. 

If Horizon Part 1 flops and Costner loses his house over this, it won't be because I refused to pay the 20 bucks to go see it. I just hope it doesn't. Because any man willing to gamble on himself so late in life deserves to profit from it. If it doesn't, we'll probably see him in a Progressive apron.