Ironically, while he’s more recognizable as an actor, the only two Oscars Kevin Costner has won are for his work behind the camera. His 1990 epic Western Dances with Wolves took home the trophies for Best Picture and Best Director; Costner was nominated for Best Actor but lost to Reversal of Fortune‘s Jeremy Irons. Regardless, he hasn’t directed a feature film since 2003’s acclaimed Western Open Range. Now, after nearly two decades, Costner is returning to the director’s chair for the upcoming Horizon, and this week opened with some great news for the production — Warner Bros. and New Line are now on board for the epic.
Deadline reported the good news on Monday, noting that the partnership deal finds Kevin Costner in a relationship with Warner Bros. that had long since fizzled. Starting all the way back in 1983’s Table for Five, the studio collaborated on some of the first films to give Costner real exposure, like 1985’s American Flyers and Fandango. In 1991, Warner Bros. was on board for Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves and JFK. They continued to distribute some of the actor/director’s biggest films, including after the critical and financial disappointments of 1997’s The Postman and 2001’s 3000 Miles to Graceland. With the exception of DC Cinematic Universe films that included the actor’s appearance as Superman’s (Henry Cavill) adoptive father Jonathan Kent, Warner Bros. hasn’t signed on for a Costner flick before now since the 2005 rom-com Rumor Has It.
Horizon‘s script was co-written by Kevin Costner and Jon Baird. Costner first worked with Baird, along with artist Rick Ross, on the 2015 novel The Explorers Guild, Volume One: A Passage to Shambhala. Along with directing, it’s presumed that — like with most of his directorial efforts, Costner will also star in Horizon. Beyond that, little is known about who to expect either behind or in front of the camera. Costner’s Territory Pictures is producing, and Deadline says filming is expected to begin in the late summer.
From what Deadline says about the film, you can expect an impressive cast to be joining Kevin Costner. Horizon will focus on the struggle of American settlers pushing west, and we will see the story told through many different points of view. Of the threats Horizon‘s heroes are destined to face, Deadline mentions “the constant onslaught of natural elements” as well as “the interactions with the Indigenous peoples.”
Those “interactions with Indigenous peoples” could prove a tricky subject for Kevin Costner to navigate. While he was largely praised for his depiction of the Sioux in Dances with Wolves, including being honored by members of the Lakota Sioux Nation in October 1990, he’s also received some criticism for his depiction of the Pawnee. Some writers argue that while the Sioux of the story are depicted respectfully, the Pawnee are portrayed as one-dimensional, savage villains. Then there’s the “White Savior” film trope — something brought up much more today than it was in 1990. Dances with Wolves is so closely associated with the trope, that other movies that fall into the category are often described as “Dances with Wolves with ______” or “Dances with Wolves in _____.” For example: The Last Samurai is often labeled “Dances with Wolves with samurai.” Avatar is often called “Dances with Wolves in space.”