That Time Kevin Costner & Kurt Russell Made the Same Western Movie


The Massive Image

  • Wyatt Earp
    had been each launched within the mid ’90s, to very completely different outcomes.
  • Kevin Costner turned down the lead position in
    to star in
    Wyatt Earp
    , which was a vital and industrial failure.
  • Whereas the movies every have their excessive factors, Val Kilmer’s portrayal of Doc Holliday in
    helps set it aside because the superior Wyatt Earp film.

Generally there’s a sure synchronicity that results in two films primarily based on the identical premise being launched in fast succession. One such event concerned two Westerns about Wyatt Earp and the gunfight on the O.Okay. Corral that had been launched simply six months asideTombstone and Wyatt Earp. The story is well-worn floor, however the story behind the productions is probably extra fascinating. Kevin Costner was supplied the lead position in Tombstone however already had plans to make a miniseries in regards to the Outdated West lawman, which might ultimately grow to be Wyatt Earp. What adopted included fights over period-appropriate clothes, Costner trying to blacklist Tombstone, and even a ghost director.


A profitable lawman’s plans to retire anonymously in Tombstone, Arizona are disrupted by the sort of outlaws he was well-known for eliminating.

Launch Date
December 25, 1993

George P. Cosmatos , Kevin Jarre

130 minutes

Principal Style

Kevin Jarre

Competing Films With Related Plots Are Surprisingly Frequent

It’s onerous to say precisely why multiple versions of the same movie crop up on occasion, notably as studios are inclined to keep away from the chance if they will. In reality, only a yr earlier than Tombstone went into manufacturing, Kevin Jarre, who wrote the script and was set to direct the movie, had his Dracula script canned by Common after Francis Ford Coppola announced his own version. Regardless of this, there have been a number of high-profile situations, resembling Armageddon and Deep Influence, Dante’s Peak and Volcano, and Olympus Has Fallen and White Home Down. What is evident when wanting on the historical past of those films is that it’s uncommon for each to achieve success — whether or not wanting on the field workplace, vital response, or cultural influence, one typically outperforms the opposite. This holds true for Wyatt Earp and Tombstone, with the latter being much more well-received critically, making more cash on a smaller price range, and having a a lot stronger popularity amongst audiences.

Kevin Costner Turned Down the Position of Wyatt Earp in ‘Tombstone’

Lt. John J. Dunbar and Kicking Bird, riding solemnly on horseback in Dances With Wolves
Picture through Orion Photos

The brief reply: Kevin Costner. Earlier than Wyatt Earp went into manufacturing, Costner was offered the lead role in Tombstone however declined to develop a miniseries about Earp, as an alternative. As reported by Entertainment Weekly in 1993, the fallout of this resolution led to a number of drama. Coming off the immense disappointment of getting his Dracula script shelved, the announcement {that a} rival Wyatt Earp movie was on its approach was a blow to Jarre, who mentioned it was “an try and crush my image.” Within the early ’90s, there have been few stars with as a lot juice as Costner, coming off a number of hits and having gained two Oscars for his previous Western Dances with Wolves, so when he and his company, CAA, began throwing their weight round, the survival of Tombstone felt precarious. Tombstone producer James Jacks instructed Leisure Weekly that CAA was telling folks within the enterprise that the movie was useless, whereas Wyatt Earp producer Jim Wilson mentioned: “Due to the asinine mentality on this city, they gained’t let two photos about Earp go ahead. If I had been a playing man, I’d wager Tombstone doesn’t go forward.”

Did Kurt Russell Direct ‘Tombstone’?

Close up of actor Kurt Russell as Wyatt Earp, smiling in Tombstone
Picture by Buena Vista Photos Distribution

Issues modified when Kurt Russell, himself a CAA shopper on the time, got here on board. Having a star of his caliber because the lead bought issues rolling once more on Tombstone, although it didn’t cease the drama. Sadly for Jarre, the movie’s backers merely didn’t suppose he was as much as the duty, and he shortly misplaced assist as director earlier than being fired from the venture after lower than a month. According to Russell himself in an interview with True West magazine in 2006, he took over directing in all however identify. Russell mentioned: “They wished me to take over the film. I mentioned, ‘I’ll do it, however I don’t wish to put my identify on it. I don’t wish to be the man.’” The compromise: rent George P. Cosmatos as a ghost director. The Rambo: First Blood Half II and Cobra director was recommended by Sylvester Stallone (the film additionally options his brother, Frank Stallone). Russell added: “I mentioned to George, ‘Whilst you’re alive George, I gained’t say a goddamn factor.’” Val Kilmer, who steals the present as Doc Holliday, backed much of Russell’s version of events in a blog post, detailing the work he did placing collectively shot lists for Cosmatos.

‘Wyatt Earp’ Was a Field-Workplace Bomb, Whereas ‘Tombstone’ Was a Success

Kevin Costner as Wyatt Earp aiming his gun and looking intently at something off-camera in Wyatt Earp
Picture through Warner Bros.

As soon as the productions of Wyatt Earp and Tombstone had been underway, a lot of which happened concurrently, genuine outfits turned a problem. In accordance with True West, Costner had managed to commandeer every Western costume in Hollywood. Russell, nevertheless, was unfazed: “It compelled us to go to Europe, which, actually, is the place the nouveau riche of Tombstone purchased their garments within the first place.” When it got here to Wyatt Earp, a lot of the points got here with what ended up onscreen slightly than the method of constructing it. The three-plus-hour epic bombed on the field workplace, bringing in simply $25 million domestically on a $63 million price range, and being nominated for 5 Razzies, aka the Golden Raspberry Awards (the nomination for Worst Display Combo going to Kevin Costner and “any of his three wives” is definitely the spotlight). Even the solid was lower than happy with the end result, although none as vocally as Michael Madsen, who performed Virgil Earp. In 2017, he instructed Empire: “It’s lengthy, it’s silly and boring. It’s a large close-up of Kevin for 3 f*cking hours.”


This Kurt Russell Film Is One of the Most Brutal Westerns Ever Made

It does not get extra grotesque than this contemporary cult Western horror.

When Tombstone was launched on the finish of 1993, there had already been a variety of flicks primarily based on the story of Earp and the gunfight on the O.Okay. Corral. The primary time he appeared in a film was within the 1923 movie Wild Invoice Hickok, however essentially the most well-known variations of his story are in John Ford’s My Darling Clementine and John Sturges’s Gunfight on the O.Okay. Corral. By the point the competing movies had been made, it had been greater than 20 years since there was a film depicting Earp’s story, although even 1971’s Doc recontextualizes the story to middle on Doc Holliday (Stacy Keach), so it was truthful to imagine audiences can be focused on a brand new take. Sadly for Costner, 190 minutes of Earp’s life from baby to alcoholic widower to brutal lawman to an previous man on a ferry simply didn’t hit the mark. A bloody and well-mustachioed model with humor and wit, then again, was rather more efficient. It does not harm that Tombstone has the better O.K. Corral shootout.

‘Wyatt Earp’ and ‘Tombstone’ Took Completely different Approaches to Wyatt Earp and Doc Holliday

Other than the far completely different focus of the movies — Wyatt Earp having a bigger scope and Tombstone being extra targeted — the portrayals of the characters are the biggest divergence. Kevin Costner’s version of Earp ranges from a naive child to a power of seething aggression, with a good chunk of a scoundrel within the center. It’s really fairly laudable that Costner and director Lawrence Kasdan seemed past Earp’s sizable self-promotion to current a personality with apparent flaws, even when it isn’t essentially the most nuanced portrayal. Kurt Russell’s Earp has rather more happening under the floor, presenting a steely resolve however continually uncertain of his personal nature.

The clear separation, nevertheless, is Val Kilmer’s version of Doc Holliday. Fairly simply certainly one of his most interesting performances, Kilmer seems easy even whereas pallid and coated in sweat, to the purpose you might imagine he actually had tuberculosis. Each interplay with Johnny Ringo (Michael Biehn) is filled with rigidity, but Kilmer brings charisma and a winking confidence to Holliday, all whereas being comedic aid with out undermining the drama. It’s wildly spectacular. Whereas Dennis Quaid is a high quality actor, his model of the character suffers drastically from its proximity to Kilmer’s. It’s much like watching Brian Cox as Hannibal Lecter in Manhunter after already seeing Anthony Hopkins in The Silence of the Lambs – one model is so iconic that every little thing else looks like cosplay compared. In some ways, the variations between Kilmer’s and Quaid’s Doc Hollidays encapsulate the battle between their respective movies, with the messier rendering turning out much better.

Tombstone is offered to hire on Prime Video within the U.S.



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