After a run of box office hits throughout the 1980s, which included The Untouchables and Field Of Dreams, Kevin Costner decided to turn to directing, turning down big acting paydays in films like the role of Jack Ryan in The Hunt for Red October to make 1990’s Dances With Wolves. Costner decided to go all-in and partly financed the $22 million western which based on his friend Michael Blake’s novel.
Critics and Hollywood insiders mocked Costner’s faith in the film, believing that it was an over blown vanity project doomed for failure. Before it’s release it was known as Kevin’s Gate (after the Michael Cimino’s legendary flop western Heaven’s Gate) and Costner’s Last Stand (after the legendary Battle of Little Big Horn).
Costner proved his critics wrong and three hour film went on to gross over $184 million at the US box office and more than $424 million worldwide. Those are impressive numbers by today’s standards and even more amazing when you consider that the film was released in 1990.
Dances With Wolves also swept the board at the Academy Awards in 1991, winning seven awards including Best Picture, Best Director for Costner, Best Adapted Screenplay, Best Film Editing, Best Cinematography, Best Original Score and Best Sound Mixing.