Kevin Costner Famously Refused Edits to His Infamous 1997 Flop 'The Postman'

With Kevin Costner reportedly causing a bumpy ride for Yellowstone heading into the second half of season 5, it is the perfect time to look back at some of the past creative clashes the star has had. If you've never watched the 1997 post-apocalyptic epic The Postman, you're missing out on Costner mixing bits of Waterworld with other bits of Dances With Wolves to create a patriotic mess of sorts.

Costner talked about feeling pride for the film back in 2020, amid his rise in Yellowstone and the very real struggles of the U.S. Post Office, speaking with The Daily Beast about the film.

"You know, listen, a movie is what it is when it comes out, and it has a chance to be revisited. I was always kind of proud of it. I thought I probably made a mistake not starting the movie off saying,'Once upon a time...' Because it's kind of like a fairy tale: "Once upon a time, when things got really rotten, the only thing that could stand the test of time was the Post Office. The only thing that people could count on." I didn't say that and I probably should've, because it is like a fairy tale that you'd read to your children at night. That's how I did the movie," Costner tells the outlet. "I think Postman actually is kind of a very funny movie, when you watch it. There's humor wrapped all the way through it. Just dealing a little bit with the nature of fame, and dealing with somebody who's famous, and him saying, "No, you're famous." That's all the movie was trying to do."

The film was not a success when it hit theaters, but has become a cult favorite in modern times. And according to the author of the original book, Costner and Brian Helgeland are likely the reason for that. "Though I was never consulted, he nevertheless agreed with my own impression – that an evil, incoherent and rapacious central character might be a bad idea! Instinctively realizing that the tale ought to be about decency, heroism and hope, he threw out all the dismal old drafts and hired Brian Helgeland, esteemed screenwriter of LA Confidential," the author wrote on his website.

Costner would butt heads over the film, too, with the Los Angeles Times writing about the situation at the time. The Yellowstone star molded the film with the script and fought to keep the entire vision intact on screen, causing issues with the studio. "For Universal, this movie has always been about the length and the rating," Costner told Newsweek (via LA Times). "It's never been about the content. You feel a studio would want to release the best version of the movie, not the one they think appeals to the biggest common denominator. . . . Universal wasn't even willing to try [to fight the MPAA]. They said it wouldn't do any good. The love of the movies, I believe, is waning [in Hollywood]."

The Postman only made around $17 million on its $80 million budget, but this doesn't hit on quality. It doesn't seem to be what Costner is worried about as much while making the movie. It's not going to be considered a classic, but movies have worth outside of how much money they generate. If anything, check out the film's Tom Petty cameo. It's pretty sweet.