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As Paramount Network’s Yellowstone franchise continues to set ratings records and expand with more star-studded spinoffs, the ranch drama’s success has prompted other networks and streamers to head out West.
Amazon, sources say, is fast-tracking an untitled Western from True Detective creator Nic Pizzolatto, which Nick Pepper, its head of U.S. wholly owned series and development, is considering the streamer’s version of the Taylor Sheridan favorite. Netflix is doubling down on the genre with The Abandons, a show from Sons of Anarchy alum Kurt Sutter set in 1850s Oregon in which outlier families pursue Manifest Destiny, and American Primeval, a limited series about the birth of the American West starring Taylor Kitsch (Friday Night Lights) and written by Eric Newman (Narcos).
Other projects — including a farm-set series from Sheridan himself — are also in the works as multiple sources say execs at both linear networks and streaming services have put out the word that they’re all looking to cash in on the success of the Kevin Costner-fronted Yellowstone. The franchise has already spawned spinoffs 1883 (with Sam Elliott, Tim McGraw and Faith Hill) and 1923 (starring Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren) — both of which have already been renewed for second seasons — with the David Oyelowo and Dennis Quaid drama Bass Reeves, 1923 sequel 1944 and 6666 (named after the flagship’s ranch) also in various stages of development.
“Yellowstone has super-dramatic characters, love triangles, shoot-outs, murders, surprise adopted kids … it’s a soap opera in the modern Wild West,” quips one literary agent. “It’s where a majority of the world and this country live; it’s what we should have been making this entire damn time.”
Hit shows often breed imitators. This Is Us reignited interest in the family drama; Ted Lasso brought more brevity to primetime; and who could forget the wave of antiheroes from TV’s golden age (Dexter, Breaking Bad, etc.).
“Writers have always pitched Westerns, but execs never wanted them,” says the lit agent. “Yellowstone has reignited interest in Americana and actual real-world living.”
Yellowstone returned for its fifth season in November and broke ratings records with 12.1 million live-plus-same day cumulative viewers, the biggest overnight launch yet for the series. Newly minted Golden Globe winner Costner is embroiled in a standoff over his filming schedule for the hit show. He is currently filming another Western, Horizon, which he co-wrote, directs, stars in and exec produces.
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