The bad news just keeps piling on for Yellowstone. After it was announced that Kevin Costner would be leaving to pursue his four-movie saga titled Horizon and the ongoing writers’ strike delaying production for the series finale, Insider shared that Costner has cut ties with the show entirely.
In court documents related to his divorce from his wife, Christine Baumgartner, the actor said he is “no longer under contract” for the Paramount Network drama and wasn’t expecting to receive any monetary compensation from the series apart from “back-end contractual participation rights.”
“I will earn substantially less in 2023 than I did in 2022. This is because I am no longer under contract for Yellowstone, the principal source of my income last year,” Costner said in a June 30 declaration obtained by Insider.
The 68-year-old actor — who in 2022 earned a reported $1.3 million for each episode of the show — said that the fixed amount “pay-or-play” and episodic compensation he received for the series had ceased and that “so far in 2023 I have yet to receive any participation compensation from Yellowstone.”
Reserved for in-demand actors, directors, and other high-profile individuals in Hollywood, a “pay-or-play” deal guarantees participants payment, even if they are released from their contract. Costner continued, “Now, any compensation I earn from Yellowstone will derive only from my back-end contractual participation rights, which amounts are not fixed. The most recent report from the producer for Yellowstone shows I am not now owed any participation money.”
It was previously believed that Costner would appear in the final half of Season 5 to wrap up things for his character, John Dutton. Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter last month, Taylor Sheridan seemed to be under the impression that Costner would be reprising his role as the aging rancher and hinted that the ending of the show would see Costner’s character killed off.
Sheridan said that the Costner’s decision to leave the show “truncates the closure of his character” but added that the character’s fate and the ending of the show had been planned out since the early days of Yellowstone.
However, there’s now a question if that death would have to occur off-screen if Costner does not return to set to film scenes given that he no longer has a legal obligation to do so.
There are also other issues hanging over the final run of episodes.
It was previously announced that the latter half of season five would debut in November — but that’s looking increasingly unlikely given that Sheridan said the episodes were yet to be written, let alone shot and edited. In a bit of good news for fans, however, Sheridan suggests he might make more than the previously reported six final episodes.