Tombstone is a 1993 American Western film directed by George P. Cosmatos, written by Kevin Jarre (who was also the original director, but was replaced early in production), and starring Kurt Russell and Val Kilmer, with Sam Elliott, Bill Paxton, Powers Boothe, Michael Biehn, and Dana Delany in supporting roles, as well as narration by Robert Mitchum.
The film is based on events in Tombstone, Arizona, including the Gunfight at the O.K. Corral and the Earp Vendetta Ride, during the 1880s. It depicts a number of Western outlaws and lawmen, such as Wyatt Earp, William Brocius, Johnny Ringo, and Doc Holliday.
Tombstone was released by Hollywood Pictures in theatrical wide release in the United States on December 24, 1993, grossing $56.5 million in domestic ticket sales. The film was a financial success, and for the Western genre, it ranks number 14 in the list of highest-grossing films since 1979. Critical reception was generally positive, but the film failed to garner award nominations for production merits or acting from any mainstream motion picture organizations.
The film opens with a brief prologue about the film's setting: the Old West and the town of Tombstone, Arizona, in the year 1879. After the prologue, members of the outlaw gang known as the Cochise County Cowboys, led by William "Curly Bill" Brocius, ride into a Mexican town and interrupt a local police officer's wedding. They then proceed to massacre the assembled policemen in retribution for killing two of their fellow gang members. Shortly before being shot in cold blood, a local priest warns them that their acts of murder and savagery will be avenged, referencing the biblical fourth horseman.
Wyatt Earp, a retired peace officer with a notable reputation, reunites with his brothers Virgil and Morgan in Tucson, Arizona, where they venture on towards Tombstone to settle down. There they encounter Wyatt's long-time friend Doc Holliday, who is seeking relief from his worsening tuberculosis. Josephine Marcus and Mr. Fabian are also newly arrived with a traveling theater troupe. Meanwhile, Wyatt's common-law wife, Mattie Blaylock, is becoming dependent on laudanum. Wyatt and his brothers begin to profit from a stake in a gambling emporium and saloon when they have their first encounter with the outlaws known as the "Cowboys," led by Curly Bill and his lieutenant, Johnny Ringo. The Cowboys are identifiable by the red sashes worn around their waists.
As tensions rise, Wyatt is pressured to help rid the town of the Cowboys, though he is no longer a lawman. Curly Bill begins shooting aimlessly after a visit to an opium house and is told by Marshal Fred White to relinquish his firearms. Curly Bill instead shoots the marshal dead, although likely by accident, and is forcibly taken into custody by Wyatt. The arrest infuriates Ike Clanton and the other Cowboys. Curly Bill stands trial, but is found not guilty due to a lack of witnesses. Virgil, unable to tolerate lawlessness, becomes the new marshal and imposes a weapons ban within the city limits. This leads to the legendary gunfight at the O.K. Corral, in which Billy Clanton and other Cowboys are killed. Virgil and Morgan are wounded, and the allegiance of county sheriff Johnny Behan with the Cowboys is made clear. As retribution for the Cowboy deaths, Wyatt's brothers are ambushed; Morgan is killed, while Virgil is left handicapped. A despondent Wyatt and his family leave Tombstone and board a train, with Clanton and Frank Stilwell close behind, preparing to ambush them. Wyatt sees that his family leaves safely, and then surprises the assassins. He kills Stilwell, but lets Clanton return to send a message: Wyatt announces that he is a U.S. marshal, and that he intends to kill any man that he sees wearing a red sash. Wyatt, Doc, a reformed Cowboy named Sherman McMasters, and their allies Texas Jack Vermillion and Turkey Creek Jack Johnson, join forces to administer justice.
Wyatt and his posse are ambushed in a riverside forest by the Cowboys. Wyatt walks into the creek, miraculously surviving the enemy fire, and kills Curly Bill along with many of his men. Curly Bill's second-in-command, Johnny Ringo, becomes the new head of the Cowboys. When Doc's health worsens, the group is accommodated by Henry Hooker at his ranch. Ringo sends a messenger (dragging McMasters' corpse) to Hooker's property telling Wyatt that he wants a showdown to end the hostilities; Wyatt agrees. Wyatt sets off for the showdown, not knowing that Doc had already arrived at the scene. Doc confronts a surprised Ringo and kills him in a duel. Wyatt runs when he hears the gunshot, only to encounter Doc. They then press on to complete their task of eliminating the Cowboys, although Clanton escapes their vengeance by renouncing his red sash. Doc is sent to a sanatorium in Colorado, where he later dies of his illness. At Doc's urging, Wyatt pursues Josephine to begin a new life.