Yellowstone’s Next Spinoff Could Repeat A 31-Year-Old Western Battle (& Kevin Costner May Lose Again)

One rumored route for the Yellowstone franchise as it moves beyond Kevin Costner threatens to repeat a pivotal clash in American Western cinema from more than 30 years ago, and Costner could find himself on the losing end of the battle once again. The franchise has grown outward from the original hit neo-Western drama series, and has yielded multiple successful prequel series already in 1883 and 1923. However, what happens next with the present-day Duttons is less clear; three of Yellowstone’s biggest stars are reportedly returning in a sequel spinoff, but there are few details available.

Several big stars have been rumored to lead a spinoff series for the Yellowstone franchise, most notably including Matthew McConaughey and Michelle Pfeiffer. The most recent reports on the franchise indicate that the team behind Yellowstone is eyeing Kurt Russell for a starring role, although it hasn’t been clarified which of the multiple planned spinoffs he might be involved in. If Russell is in fact stepping in to further the story of the present-day Duttons, it will recreate an infamous rivalry from the 1990s that ended with Costner decisively on the losing end.

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Tombstone and Wyatt Earp were released within six months of each other, with Tombstone debuting on Christmas Day, 1993 and Wyatt Earp hitting theaters on June 24th, 1994. The two movies are both technically biopics of the same man (the real Wyatt Earp), although Tombstone goes much more in-depth on the supporting characters involved in some of the most famous events from the Old West, including the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral and the Earp Vendetta Ride. For comparison, Tombstone’s most memorable character isn’t actually Wyatt Earp; it’s Val Kilmer’s Doc Holliday.

Wyatt Earp, on the other hand, is entirely focused on the life story of Earp, the famous American lawman and gambler. The stark difference in focus between the two movies actually explains their connection: Kevin Costner was originally set to work on Tombstone, but disagreed with the movie’s screenwriter, Kevin Jarre (Glory), over the prominence of Wyatt Earp within the story. That led to Costner leaving the movie, and collaborating with director Lawrence Kasdan on the movie Wyatt Earp, which began as a six-hour miniseries before being changed to a three-hour movie to capitalize on Costner’s star power.

Kevin Costner actually sabotaged Tombstone by convincing many of the major studios to refuse to distribute the film.

The difference in how the two movies fared is just as stark as their focus. Tombstone was widely acclaimed (it currently sits at 73% Certified Fresh on the Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer) and made over $73 million on its budget of just $25 million. Wyatt Earp, on the other hand, was met with criticism for its rambling story and overly long runtime despite the terrific performances and visuals (31% on Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer). It grossed just $55.9 million on a budget of $63 million.

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