An iconic Kevin Costner Western is now streaming on Netflix, but it’s not really iconic in the way you’d think. That’s because, when it came out, “Wyatt Earp” was considered a flop at the box office. Arguably, Kevin Costner was at the top of his game until 1994’s “Wyatt Earp,” which was significantly surpassed at the box office the year before by the less anticipated “Tombstone.” That film was also about Wyatt Earp, and while it starred a less-popular Kurt Russell and had a much lower budget, the film has still skyrocketed past Costner’s “Wyatt Earp” to become a cult Western favorite in recent times.
So, why is “Wyatt Earp” now on Netflix? Could it have something to do with Kevin Costner’s dramatic resurgence in Hollywood in recent years? Costner booked 5 movies in 2014. But, in general, critics were not too kind to Costner for a stretch there.
It wasn’t until 2018 and “Yellowstone” that Costner really had his true comeback. He’s always been a household name, but he’s found a new audience in “Yellowstone.” He’s grown into himself as a distinguished actor; he’s eloquent in interviews, he knows the industry, and he knows Westerns. Costner is well and truly back from his slump. Now, we want to watch his old movies, want to consume as much Costner media as we can. We’re scrambling for “Dances With Wolves,” “Field of Dreams,” and “The Untouchables.”
While there are many other Costner films that surpass “Wyatt Earp,” it’s still a classic in terms of Costner’s filmography. Though the critics didn’t love it, it’s still a cult favorite for die-hard Kevin Costner fans.
Kevin Costner’s ‘Wyatt Earp’: Why Did It Fall Flat With Critics?
“Wyatt Earp,” essentially, tried to do too much. It focused so heavily on Wyatt Earp’s entire life that it lost audiences somewhere in the middle. It had big-name actors in Costner, Dennis Quaid, and Gene Hackman, but the story wasn’t there to back them up. Critic Roger Ebert said of the film, in part, “‘Wyatt Earp’ plays as if they took ‘Tombstone’ and pumped it full of hot air. It involves many of the same characters and much of the same story, but little of the tension and drama […] This is a long journey, in a three-hour film that needs better pacing.”
Overall, “Wyatt Earp” didn’t totally accomplish what it set out to do, but that doesn’t matter if you’re a true Costner fan. Though it wasn’t big with the critics, it’s still a favorite for fans of Kevin Costner, and that includes us here at Outsider. At the end of the day, give it a watch and make your own decision. Who cares what the critics say? Costner is Costner, and he’ll always be a household name.