Kevin Costner's Second 2014 Flop: What Happened to His Big Comeback?

Kevin Costner
Kevin Costner
 Eric Charbonneau/Invision/AP Images

After his 2012 television miniseries Hatfields & McCoys aired to record ratings, Kevin Costner was once again in hot demand. The actor, one of the world's biggest stars in the 1980s and 1990s, hoped to launch a new career as an older leading man, much as Liam Neeson has done.

But 2014 has turned into a tough year so far for Costner, with three disappointments in less than four months. Football drama Draft Day -- opening to a troubling $9.8 million over the weekend in North America -- was unable to make up for the poor showing of 3 Days to Kill, Costner's recent spy action movie, or Paramount's ill-fated January movie Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, although Chris Pine was the top-billed star in that film, even though Costner was featured heavily in marketing materials.

Jack Ryan grossed $134.3 million worldwide, including just $50.6 million in the U.S.

Directed by Ivan Reitman, Draft Day did even less business than Relativity Media and EuropaCorp's 3 Days to Kill, which opened to $12.2 million in February before topping out at $30.5 million worldwide.

FILM REVIEW: Draft Day

More than 40 percent of Draft Day's audience was over the age of 50, a sign that younger audiences aren't drawn to Costner. And nearly 25 percent were between the ages of 35 and 49. At the same time, Costner drew strong reviews for his performance.

Lionsgate and OddLot Entertainment partnered on the $25 million sports drama, starring Costner as the GM of the Cleveland Browns.

Richie Fay, Lionsgate's distribution chief, said Draft Day will ultimately be a financial success but conceded it did less than hoped for. (Tracking suggested it would open to between $12 million to $14 million.) He believes, however, that the movie will have strong legs over the Easter holiday. "This is a marathon, not a sprint," Fay said.

Fay wouldn't comment on how Draft Day might impact Costner's standing, but another person close to the film said comebacks take time. "It is a long process, and people must have patience. He has to introduce himself to a new generation," the person said.

Draft Day's weak showing probably won't make Disney happy. On Nov. 21, the studio will release its own Costner sports drama, McFarland, based on the true story of a California high school coach who faced a myriad of social issues when leading his mostly Hispanic track team to the championships in the 1980s. Niki Caro is directing the modestly budgeted movie.

Conversely, Disney is a major studio and may spend more on marketing than Relativity and Lionsgate did. And if McFarland works, the sting of Draft Day and 3 Days to Kill would be lessened.

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Costner stars in the upcoming independent drama Black and White, directed by Mike Binder and also starring Octavia Spencer, Gillian Jacobs and Jennifer Ehle. Costner plays a widower who raises his granddaughter alone. His world is turned upside down when the child's African-American grandmother turns up, leading to an intense custody battle. The film hasn't yet been shopped to U.S. distributors.

According to insiders, Costner is fielding several movie offers, although Universal's thriller Midnight Delivery, produced by Guillermo del Toro, is apparently off the table.

Paramount had been considering making a Jack Ryan spinoff -- Costner would have played the same character he played in Jack Ryan -- but those plans have been scrapped.

In summer 2013, Costner received high praise for his supporting role in Man of Steel, Warner Bros.' Superman reboot in which he played Clark Kent's mortal foster father.

Borys Kit contributed to this report.

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