He stars and executive produces the smash hit series Yellowstone.
And now, once again, Kevin Costner is reaping the reward as he becomes the highest paid actor per episode on the small screen.
The 67-year-old Hollywood veteran is making $1.3 million per episode for season 5 of the Western-themed show, Variety reported Wednesday.
Costner, who won two Academy Awards for 1990’s Dances With Wolves, stars in Yellowstone as patriarch John Dutton whose family has owned a ranch in Montana for six generations.
Each season of the drama has outperformed the last with the audience for season 4 four times the size of the one that tuned in for the first series.
And along with its success, Costner, whose season one starting salary was $500,000 an episode, managed to renegotiate his contract every step of the way to $1.2 million per episode for the fourth season, according to ScreenRant.
Now he’s getting an extra $100,000 per episode to return for more episodes of the drama.
Highest paid: Kevin Costner is making $1.3 million per episode for season 5 of his hit series Yellowstone, Variety reported on Wednesday, putting him at the top of TV earners
Yellowstone, which debuted on the Paramount Network cable channel in 2018, is a flagship product for the recently launched streaming service Paramount+.
It has also spawned two prequels, 1883 starring Faith Hill and Tim McGraw which premiered in December 2021 and the upcoming 1923 that, according to Variety, will earn its stars Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren $1 million per episode each.
Directed and mostly written by Taylor Sheridan, Yellowstone was an instant hit with viewers despite being dubbed ‘anti-woke’.
However, it has failed to find the same success within the Hollywood industry being mostly snubbed at awards shows despite pulling in more than 10 million viewers.
Once again, the series was left out of the Best Drama category when the Emmy nominations were announced earlier this month.
Costner, too, who won two Academy Awards for 1990’s Dances With Wolves, was snubbed in the Best Actor category.
It did land a Screen Actors Guild nomination this year but did not come away with the top prize.
Hit show: Costner, 67, earned $500,000 per episode when the Western premiered in 2018 and has negotiated a salary increase for each season since thanks to blockbuster viewing figures
Set in the American West, Yellowstone received its share of criticism especially when it first aired.
Tim Goodman, of The Hollywood Reporter, called the show a ‘testosterone grit-fest’ that is far from relatable.
‘Yellowstone tries to be so expansive and soap-operatic that there’s barely any realism in it,’ Goodman wrote.
Just before t1he season three finale, Kathyrn VanArendonk, of Vulture, wrote that Yellowstone ‘is the most white, male American show on TV.
She wrote that the show focuses on portraying the idea that city folk are ‘namby-pambies who don’t value the good things: Dirt. Cows. Empty horizons. Silence. Those people are less sweaty, less calloused, less worthy.’
‘It’s a supremely masculine, American, whiteness-inflected ethos of how Yellowstone yearns for the world to work.’
She added that John Dutton served as a reflection of America, where white, land owning men were desperate to hold onto the old way amid a changing nation threatening to leave them behind.
Not politically correct: Yellowstone which airs on Paramount+ has been dubbed ‘anti woke’ for its focus on a land-owning white man in rural America
No gongs: The series directed and mostly written by Taylor Sheridan has mostly been snubbed at Hollywood awards shows despite pulling in more than 10 million viewers
Highest Paid TV Stars
Kevin Costner – $1.3m (Yellowstone)
Mahershala Ali – $1.3m (The Plot)
Michael Keaton – $1m (Dopesick)
Harrison Ford and Helen Mirren – $1m (1923)
Will Ferrell and Paul Rudd – $1m (The Shrink Next Door)
Jason Sudeikis – $1m (Ted Lasso)
Sylvester Stallone – $1m (Tulsa King)
Elizabeth Olsen – $875k (Love and Death)
Anne Hathaway and Jared Leto – $750k (We Crashed)
Seth Rogen and Rose Byrne – $750k (Platonic)
Brie Larson – $750k (Lessons in Chemistry)
Natasha Lyonne – $500k (Poker Face)
Elizabeth Moss – $500k (Shining Girls)
David Harbor and Winona Ryder – $450k (Stranger Things)
Angela Bassett – $450k (9-1-1)
Peter Krause – $350k (9-1-1)
Matt Bomer – $300k (Fellow Travelers)
Jonathan Bailey – $225k (Fellow Travelers)
Tom Hopper, David Castañeda, Emmy Raver-Lampman, Robert Sheehan, Aidan Gallagher and Justin H. Min – $200k (The Umbrella Academy)
In the money: Another actor who shares the title of most paid on TV is Mahershala Ali, 48, who is also getting $1.3 million per episode for upcoming mini series The Plot for Disney+ and Hulu
Another actor who shares the title of most paid on TV is Mahershala Ali, 48.
According to Variety, he is also getting $1.3 million per episode for the currently in production mini series The Plot for Disney+ and Hulu.
Like Costner, Ali is a two-time Oscar winner, finding fame thanks to the 2016 film Moonlight by director Barry Jenkins. He went on to win the best supporting actor category again at the 2019 Academy Awards for 2018’s Green Book.
Variety reports that several stars are getting $1 million-per-episode paydays to headline TV projects including Sylvester Stallone for Tulsa King, Michael Keaton for Dopesick, Will Ferrell and Paul Rudd for The Shrink Next Door and Jason Sudeikis for Ted Lasso.
Back in 2002, the cast of NBC’s blockbuster sitcom Friends made Hollywood history when they negotiated a $1 million per episode deal to return for seasons 9 and 10.
Ground breaking: Back in 2002, the cast of NBC’s blockbuster sitcom Friends made Hollywood history when they negotiated a $1 million per episode deal to return for seasons 9 and 10
Tactic paid off: The five main stars of CBS’ The Big Bang Theory also negotiated $1 million per episode deals in 2018 to return for a final 12th season
Unknowns when the show debuted in 1994, Jennifer Aniston, Courteney Cox, Lisa Kudrow, David Schwimmer, Matthew Perry and Matt LeBlanc decided to negotiate salary increases as a team and not individually,
As Friends became part of NBC’s Thursday night ‘must see TV’ and enjoyed success around the world, that approach paid off big time for the six stars.
It was a tactic repeated by the main cast of The Big Bang Theory when they negotiated increases for their final 12th season on CBS.
The five main cast members – Jim Parsons, Kaley Cuoco, Johnny Galecki, Kunal Nayyer and Simon Helberg, got paid $1 million apiece per episode for the final shows that aired in the 2018-19 TV season.
Yellowstone follows life on a family ranch led by Costner’s John Dutton
Yellowstone follows the story of the Dutton Family, led by John Dutton who controls the largest ranch in the US.
The drama, set in the 1880s, comes from Dutton’s ambition to hold onto his wealth and land, which is constantly under attack by greedy land developers, a Native American reservation and the titular national park.
Kevin Costner plays John, the sixth-generation patriarch who runs the ranch.
Luke Grimes, known for his roles in American Sniper and Fifty Shades of Grey, takes on the role of John’s son, Kayce Dutton, a former US Navy SEAL who is married to a local Native American woman.
English actress Kelly Reilly plays John’s daughter, Beth Dutton, a financier and master manipulator who suffers from substance abuse and is loyal to her father.
Cole Hauser – an acting veteran who’s been in Dazed and Confused, Good Will Hunting and The Break Up – also stars as Rip Wheeler, John’s right-hand man and Beth’s love interest.
The show’s popularity has shot up since its pilot episode garnered 2.83 million views in 2018. By the season three finale, The World is Purple, the show saw more than 5 million people tuning in.
The recent season four double-episode premiere had about 8.38 million viewers.