Yellowstone Paid A Heavy Price For All Those Spin-Off Shows

Last year, it was announced that Taylor Sheridan's hit show "Yellowstone" would come to an end after the second half of season five. The hugely popular Paramount series seemed like it could go on forever considering the sheer amount of dads that tuned it to watch the travails of the Dutton family. But following the global pandemic and the strikes of 2023, production on "Yellowstone" faltered. Fans were able to watch the first half of season five when it aired from November 2022 to January 2023, but the second half of the season still hasn't materialized despite Paramount initially promising it would debut in the fall of 2023.

Now, Paramount has confirmed part two will air on November 10, 2024, but it seems there's still a big question mark hanging over the involvement of the show's star, Kevin Costner. Back in May 2023, Costner announced he was leaving "Yellowstone" after season five, just before it was announced the show itself would be shuttering after the second half of the season aired. But since then there's been a protracted shootout between Sheridan and Paramount on one side, and Costner on the other. While each side has accused the other of contributing to the "Yellowstone" delays, for the most part, Costner has tried to keep his version of the story to himself. Now, however, the veteran star has spoken publicly about the "Yellowstone" debacle, suggesting that the ever-expanding Sheridan-verse might be to blame for the delays.

Kevin Costner vs Taylor Sheridan

Soon after Kevin Costner announced his exit from "Yellowstone" and Paramount confirmed the end of the show itself, Taylor Sheridan spoke out on the issues he and the series were facing. The show creator suggested that Costner's focus on his passion project, the "Horizon" films, was partly to blame for the "Yellowstone" delays. Costner co-wrote, directed, and is set to star in the "Horizon" saga — a series of neo-Western movies that constitute a passion project the actor has been trying to realize since 1988. The first installment in the series, "Horizon: An American Saga – Chapter 1" will hit theaters in June 2024, followed by "Chapter 2" in August. But it seems Costner's Western saga might not be to blame for the "Yellowstone" delays, at least according to the actor.

In September of 2023, Costner explained his "Yellowstone" exit, suggesting he may have to go to court over it and claiming the season was not split to accommodate his "Horizon" filming. At the time, the actor was forced to address his exit from the hit series as part of his divorce proceedings. But now, in an interview with GQ, the 69-year-old has laid it all out, claiming that Taylor Sheridan has been so busy with the multiple "Yellowstone" spin-offs in production that he hasn't finished the scripts for "Yellowstone" season five, part two. On Costner's account, he attempted to accommodate the production of "Yellowstone" season five, part two in multiple ways. Alas, he claims, "the scripts never came."

Costner blames the Yellowstone delays on spin-offs

In his GQ profile, Kevin Costner spoke openly about the ongoing issues faced by "Yellowstone" and offered a new take on why things have seemingly ground to a halt. In his view, the second half of season five couldn't get underway due to a lack of scripts from Taylor Sheridan. As Costner put it:

"The scripts never came. And so then at one point they said to me that we don't have an ending or anything. I said, 'Well, if you want to kill me, if you want to do something like that,' I said, 'I have a week before I start. I'll do what you want to do.' "

Though GQ states a Paramount Network spokesperson refuted Costner's claims, the actor maintains that he was willing to do what he could with the time he had to keep the show running. Unfortunately for the actor, reports that he was only willing to commit a week to filming started to circulate, which Costner claims is a distorted view of events. He continued, "My big disappointment is I never heard Paramount or [production company] 101 really come to my defense and say, 'That's not true. He was going to do three more seasons.'"

Costner went on to state that, in his view, "other shows became more important," alluding to the multiple "Yellowstone" spin-offs that have been greenlit in recent years. The first of these, "1883," debuted during "Yellowstone" season four, with the second, "1923," arriving as the first half of "Yellowstone" season five was airing. Since then, Paramount has confirmed two additional "Yellowstone" spin-offs, "1944" and "2024." These are the "other shows" that, according to Costner, may have cost "Yellowstone" its star.

Costner's claims are backed up elsewhere

This "Yellowstone" debacle is complicated, and there's surely more to the story than each side claims. But it's worth noting that in the Hollywood Reporter profile in which Taylor Sheridan blamed "Horizon" for the delays, one source claimed that Kevin Costner kept "waiting on scripts," adding, "How can you schedule something when there are no scripts? [Sheridan's] doing eight other shows." That lines up with Costner's claims that the spin-offs have taken precedence over "Yellowstone" proper.

Meanwhile, Costner also spoke to Empire, where he was asked if he would come back to "Yellowstone," responding:

"I think it's possible. Who's to know what a final season is anymore these days? I did five seasons of it. I would love to come back and do it, but it really depends. There are so many other universes [other Yellowstone shows] that are coming out, that maybe they'll circle back to that, maybe they won't. I don't know what they'll do, but I'm absolutely open to it."

Despite the spin-offs seemingly detracting from the "Yellowstone" finale, it seems Costner is at least open to returning. That said, he did tell GQ he's got "about $38 million" of his own money invested in "Horizon," so he'll be focusing on marketing those films for the time being. Footage of "Horizon: An American Saga – Chapter 1" shown at CinemaCon 2024 looks utterly massive and impressed audiences, so Costner could well have a hit on his hands. Whether the "Yellowstone" scripts will be waiting after the first two movies have had their box office runs remains to be seen, but with a November 2024 air date set for season five, part two, it seems unlikely we'll be seeing much of John Dutton III when the episodes do arrive.