Kevin Costner Returns To Directing After Two Decades With Passion Project, Horizon

Over the course of his 40-year career, "Field of Dreams" and "Yellowstone" star Kevin Costner has only helmed three movies, all of which he also starred in. The first time he did, the result was 1990's "Dances with Wolves," a historical western that grossed $184 million (via Box Office Mojo) in the U.S. not adjusted for inflation and took home seven Oscars, including ones for Best Picture (a win that Costner shared with producer Jim Wilson) and Best Director. Understandably, Costner took his time in selecting his second film as a director after all that, ultimately settling on 1997's "The Postman." A big screen adaptation of David Brin's post-apocalyptic western novel of the same name, the movie was a costly flop that earned fairly scathing reviews from critics, many of whom saw it as proof that Costner had let his ego get away from him.

It seems that Costner took those criticisms to heart (that and he probably had to spend some time in "director's jail," admittedly), which may explain why he waited another six years before directing 2003's "Open Range." A far less expensive and traditional western that paired Costner with acting legend Robert Duvall, the film was a modest critical and financial success that served as his last outing behind the camera ... until now. Yes, Costner is gearing up to call the shots on a movie for the first time in nearly 20 years.

Returning to the Old West

According to Deadline, Costner is preparing to direct "Horizon," a western movie that he will also produce and finance through his Territory Pictures production company. Described as a historical epic along the lines of "Dances with Wolves," the film will take place across a 15-year period and focus on the U.S.' expansion across the western regions of North America both before and after the U.S. Civil War. Costner elaborated on the passion project in a statement to the outlet:

"America's expansion into the west was one that was fraught with peril and intrigue from the natural elements, to the interactions with the Indigenous peoples who lived on the land, and the determination and at many times ruthlessness of those who sought to settle it. 'Horizon' tells the story of that journey in an honest and forthcoming way, highlighting the points of view and consequences of the characters' life and death decisions."

Reading between the lines, it sounds like Costner aims to portray the Old West in an authentic light with "Horizon," more so than he did with his earlier directorial efforts, particularly "Dances with Wolves." This isn't to say that film was lacking in nuance or sympathy for its Indigenous American characters (quite the opposite), but at its heart, it was still a story about white U.S. settlers told from the point of view of a white filmmaker. One just hopes Costner has listened to the critiques that Indigenous Americans have raised about his Oscar-winning classic over the 30-plus years since it came out and applies them here.

"Horizon" will begin casting in February, with filming scheduled to start in Utah on August 29, 2022.