Kevin Costner appears to be getting back into mainstream filmmaking in a big way. The Hatfields and McCoys star has Man of Steel and Jack Ryan on the way next year, is developing a film adaptation of adventure novel series The Explorers Guild and he is close to signing onto the football comedy Draft Day.

Costner hopes that The Explorers Guild (which he has been developing for nearly five years) will ‘transfer to multiple platforms’ – i.e., TV, books and film – and appeal to young-adult and mature audiences alike, giving it massive crossover appeal. The actor has been working on the project with writer and art director Jon Baird and illustrator Rick Ross, and it now looks like the crucial elements have come together to make it work. He has just closed a deal with Atria Books to publish the illustrated book series.

The first book, The Explorers Guild, Volume One: A Passage To Shambhala will be published in 2014 and it’s probably safe to assume that any film will be released after that. The Oscar-winning director likens the potential series to the James Bond franchise and says that he will star, but he won’t direct:

“I will definitely play one of the characters and provide a voice in the animated series, but I’m content to yield to a great director. This can turn into an example of great original storytelling.”

The plot for the series sounds intriguing, and if done right could be hugely successful due to its epic scope; however it probably won’t come cheap. Check out the synopsis, according to Deadline:

“The Explorers Guild is a clandestine group of adventurers who seek out the places where light gives way to shadow, and reason is usurped by myth. The secrets of this unknown world are hidden in mountain ranges and lost in deserts, sunk to the ocean floor and lodged deep beneath polar ice. The aim of The Explorers Guild: to discover the mysteries that lie beyond the boundaries of the known world. The first adventure is set against the backdrop of World War I and revolves around the quest to find the mythic Buddhist city Shambhala. Guild members are looking for different things there: one hopes to save his brother’s life, another looks for spiritual enlightenment and peace; others fear it will bring mankind to the brink of apocalypse. The search includes treks to the Polar North, the Mongolian deserts and underground canals of Asia to the Himalayas.”

Costner is quoted as saying:

[The series] represents the highest level of storytelling that lends itself to numerous platforms and if the words are protected, this can find a place as a premium content series, animated and live, and a feature. It feels like one of those billion-dollar babies that sometimes blow up with a high degree of literacy and commercial appeal. We are looking for the right kind of partner who recognizes this.”

In the last several years movies have taken something of a backseat in Costner’s life, as he has been more interested in recording and touring with his band, Modern West. Since 2008, the band has released three studio albums and a soundtrack to the Emmy-nominated miniseries Hatfields and McCoys. In that time Costner has only made three films – the political comedy Swing Vote, The New Daughter and a small role in the recession drama, The Company Men.

It would seem that the record-breaking success of Hatfields and McCoys has shown Hollywood who they’ve been missing: Costner’s role in the Jack Ryan film will potentially spin-off into other films and maybe even a standalone series; Taken producer Luc Besson also wants the Dances With Wolves star to topline the action- thriller Three Days To Kill; and it is rumored that Tom Cruise and MGM are eager for him to join the cast of a Magnificent Seven remake.

Draft Day
Costner is also in the frame to star in the sporting comedy, Draft Day, for director Ivan Reitman. According to reports:

“Costner will play the general manager of the NFL Buffalo Bills, who spends his days looking for top players to save his troubled team.”

These are exciting times for fans of Costner, as he appears to be carefully choosing projects that suit his character and his onscreen persona. The character he plays in the Jack Ryan film, William Harper, appears to be a mentor of Ryan – fitting, as Costner was first approached for the role of Ryan himself back in the late 1980s. Meanwhile, his portrayal of Jonathan Kent in the latest Superman film is also great casting, riffing on his Field of Dreams image as the all-American father. In fact, the casting is so good, he was rumoured for the same role before Superman Returns went into production in the mid-2000s!

The sheer scope of these film roles show that Costner is a star with great versatility, and if you write a good part for him…he will come.

Sources: Deadline & The Wrap

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