An Iconic Kevin Costner Western Is Exiting Netflix in August

by Suzanne Halliburton

Wyatt Earp, the western Kevin Costner fought to make almost three decades ago, is ending its nine-month run on Netflix. But fans, there’s still time to pop some corn and watch the classic.

It’s not that Netflix has a grudge against Kevin Costner. The streaming service plans to drop more than three dozen titles in August. Three Tom Cruise Mission Impossible movies (installments 1, 2 and 4) are leaving. So is Goodfellas, one of the best mob movies ever made.

But let’s talk Kevin Costner and Wyatt Earp, in case you want to watch it for the first time or see it again in all its glory. (Warning, have lots of snacks with you. The movie runs three hours and 32 minutes. Folks, that’s what you call a saga).

The movie premiered right before the Fourth of July weekend back in 1994. Kevin Costner was one of the country’s top leading men, with movies like Bull Durham and Field of Dreams. He’d also starred in and directed Dances with Wolves, which won him the Academy Award for Best Director and Best Film in 1991.

Kevin Costner Was at Top of His Movie Game When He Did Wyatt Earp

Costner first thought the movie could be a TV mini-series. (He didn’t get into the small screen for decades until Yellowstone came along) Instead, Wyatt Earp director Larry Kasdan turned it into a three-plus hour movie production. The film didn’t miss a detail about Earp, the legendary lawman.

In interviews promoting the movie, Kevin Costner told reporters he was fascinated by Earp. But he also wondered if the audience was tired of movies about the lawman. Costner’s movie was the 20th devoted to the legendary U.S. marshal.

Kasdan and Kevin Costner loaded the cast with some heavyweights. Future NCIS star Mark Harmon portrayed Johnny Behan, the sheriff of Cochise County in the Arizona territory. Gene Hackman was Earp’s dad. Dennis Quaid played Doc Holliday. Of course, Costner played the lead role.

Future NCIS star Mark Harmon (with wife, Pam Dawber) was a Kevin Costner co-star in Wyatt Earp. It’s back when Harmon was trying his luck at the big screen. (Ron Galella/Ron Galella Collection via Getty Images)

Take a Look at Who Else Appeared with Kevin Costner

Kasdan also added current and future stars in the supporting cast. They included Bill Pullman, Michael Madsen, JoBeth Williams, Isabella Rossellini, Catherine O’Hara and Joanna Going. Even Rex Linn, an actor who also is Reba McEntire’s boyfriend, was in the movie.

“There was a point where I didn’t even think this movie should be made,” Kevin Costner told reporters in 1994. “And that was because I thought the story of Wyatt Earp was terribly familiar to us.

“When I commissioned the script,” Costner said, “the idea was that if this story couldn’t be any more interesting than ‘Gunfight at O.K. Corral,’ it could not and would not be made. It just so happens that great writing found a way to make the movie original, strong and entertaining.”

The movie flopped at the box office, earning only $25 million. It cost more than double that to make it. Maybe the American audiences already had enough of Wyatt Earp. After all, Tombstone premiered six months before.

“I believe in westerns when they’re careful,” Kevin Costner said in the lead-up to the movie premiering. He added: “I think westerns will sink like a stone when they’re black hat/white hat affairs or when they’re designed only for commercial impact. I love to deal with westerns that tackle real issues, real dilemmas. Whether ‘Wyatt Earp’ is financially successful or not is one thing. I believe it’s already successful because of the kind of movie that it is.”

But August is a perfect time to camp out in your living room, escape the heat and take in Kevin Costner and Wyatt Earp.