What's happening on the 'Yellowstone' ranch? Kevin Costner looks to the 'Horizon,' Arnold Schwarzenegger wants his own 'Tulsa King'
Everything you need to know about what happened on the "Yellowstone" ranch this week.
The sun may be setting on Yellowstone, but there's still miles to go before Kevin Costner hangs up his spurs as John Dutton III on Paramount's biggest television franchise outside of Star Trek. The studio recently ended months of speculation by announcing that the Taylor Sheridan-created series would end with the current fifth season, set to return to the airwaves in November. Meanwhile, the wheels are already in motion to launch a sequel show — potentially starring Matthew McConaughey — that would continue the story of the present-day Dutton clan even as Sheridan continues launching prequel series like Harrison Ford's 1923 and Faith Hill's 1883.
While that's the future for the Dutton ranch as it stands now, almost every week brings fresh developments in this real-life Western saga. Here's everything you need to know about the future of Yellowstone.
Costner's multi-million dollar next act
While Paramount executives are no doubt nervously awaiting Costner's final decision about how much time he's willing to give the final episodes of Yellowstone, the actor himself is hard at work on his next feature film project — the ambitious (and pricey) multi-part Western, Horizon. Costner shared an image from the set on his Instagram this week, writing that he hasn't "felt this way about a movie since we were making Dances With Wolves." That 1990 film, of course, ended up gifting him with an Oscar for Best Director and another for Best Picture, and there's little doubt that he'd love for history to repeat itself.
Costner shed more light on Horizon via an extensive conversation with fellow Oscar-winning iconoclast, Francis Ford Coppola, conducted by Deadline. In the interview, he revealed that the project originated in the late 1980s, and consists of four films that will depict the evolution of the American West before and after the Civil War. Costner also said that he believes so strongly in Horizon that he's invested his own money in the movies. "I've mortgaged 10 acres on the water in Santa Barbara where I was going to build my last house," he revealed. "But I did it without a thought. It has thrown my accountant into a f***ing conniption fit. But it's my life, and I believe in the idea and the story."
"People might look at this and say, 'Oh, this is a gamble,'" Costner continued. "And I go, "Well, I guess it is, but do I want to go to Vegas and gamble?" No. I’m not that kind of gambler. I gamble on the love of story. I’m gambling on people, in a sense. I can't make them go to the theater, but if they get there, I'm going to try to take care of them the best I possibly can."
Could Arnold Schwarzenegger be a long-lost Dutton relative?
If Costner says "Hasta la vista, baby," to Yellowstone, maybe Arnold Schwarzenegger could step in for the final batch of episodes? In an interview with The Hollywood Reporter, the Austrian action star indicated that he'd love to get in the Taylor Sheridan business. "I think he's very talented," Schwarzenegger said of Sheridan. "And the cast on [Yellowstone] is phenomenal."
While Schwarzenegger has spent most of his acting career on the big screen, he's getting into the streaming game with the eight-episode action series, Fubar, which premieres on Netflix on May 25. And not for nothing, but his ’80s rival, Sylvester Stallone, already has his own Sheridan-created Paramount+ show, Tulsa King. "Today, I see much more of other people's performances than I did in the ’80s, when I was only seeing myself," the ex-Terminator said. "I was thinking: 'I have to win.' It was a competition against Sly, against others. 'I have to be number one.'"
If Sheridan decides to take Yellowstone global by creating a spin-off set on the open ranges of Austria, Schwarzenegger could be number one on the call sheet.
What's in a name?
Kindergarten teachers, prepare to welcome a whole bunch of "Duttons" to your class in about five years. The Yellowstone family's last name is now a popular first name choice for new parents. According to the Social Security Administration's rankings of popular baby names, Dutton leap-frogged from 1,821st place in 2021 to 835th place last year.
Meanwhile, Kayce — the name of John Dutton III's son, played by Luke Grimes — experienced its own popularity surge. Ranked in 1,077th place two years ago, it climbed to 587 in 2022. Sadly, Kayce's sister Bethany (played by Kelly Reilly) doesn't seem to have benefitted from the Yellowstone bump when it comes to baby names.
Previous happenings on the ranch
From May 12: Kevin Costner's death wish
To borrow a line from Auric Goldfinger, no, Costner doesn't expect Mr. Dutton to die. According to Puck's resident Hollywood expert, Matt Belloni, the Dances With Wolves star will have a big say in determining his alter ego's ultimate fate as Yellowstone wraps up its run. In fact, Belloni reports that one of the reasons that Costner has yet to commit to returning to the set for the rest of Season 5 is that he wants the show's creator to provide some indication of his endgame plans for Dutton.
Belloni suggests that Costner wants to avoid a situation like Patrick Dempsey's notorious exit from Grey's Anatomy, where Derek Shepherd was killed in a car accident after the actor's alleged on-set clashes with the cast and crew. That means that if Dutton does meet his maker, it'll be under circumstances that Costner is happy with. According to Belloni, negotiations are still ongoing in terms of how much time the outgoing star will spend on set if he does return, with options ranging anywhere from one to three weeks (Costner's preference) or 30 to 45 days (Paramount's preference).
Meanwhile, sources close to Costner tell Us Weekly that he's as "disappointed" as Yellowstone fans are about the extensive delays holding up the rest of the fifth and final season. "The holdup is not coming from Kevin," insists the source, claiming that it's all "beyond his control." (Costner is in the midst of directing the ambitious feature film project, Horizon.) The fact that Paramount has scheduled a November premiere date for the remaining episodes suggests that the rest of the cast may soon be heading to Montana... and maybe also a place that's closer to Sheridan's heart.
Taylor Sheridan's ranch life
Talk about the ultimate Airbnb. In 2021, Sheridan purchased Texas's historic Four Sixes Ranch for a reported $320 million, one of several ranches he now owns in the state. And he's put all those properties to work for him. According to a recent report in the Wall Street Journal, Sheridan has used several of his ranches as shooting locations for various Yellowstone-related shows, billing Paramount for up to $50,000 a week. Additionally, his ranches run "Cowboy Camps" to get actors in riding shape and he also rents cattle herds to his own shows at $25 a head.
While the mothership Yellowstone series is largely filmed in Montana, the Journal reported that expenses have trickled in from Sheridan's Texas properties, including a $3,000 time card from his personal horse wrangler. Appearing before cattle owner convention earlier this year, the prolific writer reportedly said: "There’s nothing better than a movie company showing up and filming for about a month and paying you a bunch of money and leaving. It’s about the greatest deal going."
A Paramount spokeswoman assured the Journal that "there are parameters in place to make effective cost decisions," while David Glasser — who runs 101 Studios, which produces Yellowstone — said that Sheridan is attentive to budget concerns. "He is not writing 'shoot at my ranch' in the script. Those demands are never made. When the [line producer] or I go to Taylor and ask him to cut a day out of the schedule for budget purposes, he is more than willing to accommodate."
It's worth noting that one of Sheridan's upcoming Paramount+ shows is 6666 and will tell the centuries-spanning story of the Four Sixes Ranch that he now owns. We'll have to wait and see whether that one will be "filmed on location."
Sheridan's strike silence
While some high-profile writer-producers like Andor's Tony Gilroy and Stranger Things's Duffer Brothers have stepped away from showrunning duties amidst the ongoing Writer's Guild of America strike, Sheridan has yet to express a public opinion about whether or not he'll be joining a picket line. And his silence hasn't gone unnoticed by those in the press. If Sheridan were to go on strike, that would certainly complicate Paramount's planned timeline for the end of Yellowstone and the start of the sequel series. But if the looming negotiations with the Director's Guild of America and the Screen Actors Guild also result in those unions going on strike, production will shut down regardless of Sheridan's stance.
Yellowstone is currently streaming on Peacock.