Midway through the last decade, filmmaker Taylor Sheridan emerged out of nowhere (well, almost: he grew up on a ranch in Cranfills Gap, a town of fewer than a thousand located an hour or so west of Waco) to become one of Hollywood’s preeminent Western storytellers. The first feature film for which he was a credited writer, the 2015 cartel thriller Sicario, was a commercial and critical success. It spawned a sequel and put Sheridan on track for an Oscar nomination (for writing 2016’s Hell or High Water), his directorial debut, Wind River, and the Kevin Costner–led Paramount television series Yellowstone. Last week, the feature Without Remorse, starring honorary Texan Michael B. Jordan and co-written by Sheridan, was released on Amazon; next week, he’s got yet another film in theaters and on HBO Max, the Angelina Jolie thriller Those Who Wish Me Dead. On top of all of that, he’s also involved in the Paramount+ adaptation of the Texas Monthly podcast Boomtown. Busy guy!
This week, according to unofficial-but-reported-everywhere sources, Sheridan found time to add another title to his already extremely hyphenated list of roles: he’ll be the new owner—or, at least, the face of the new ownership group—of Texas’s legendary 6666 Ranch, a property that has accumulated a mythic status since Samuel “Burk” Burnett first purchased a hundred head of cattle branded with four sixes back in 1870. It was put up for sale in accordance with the will of Anne Windfohr Marion—Burnett’s great-granddaughter—after her February 2020 death. It’ll be the first time in the ranch’s history that a member of the Burnett family doesn’t own the property.
The 6666 Ranch was first listed in December, and it is an unusual property. First and foremost, it’s enormous—with three divisions totaling over 266,000 acres, it’s larger than San Antonio, nearly twice the size of Chicago, and about six times the size of Brooklyn. (Yet, it’s still only the ninth-largest ranch in the state, a fact that speaks to the sheer immensity of Texas’s historic ranches.) It’s a thriving brand in ranching, and the new owner gets 100 percent of solar and wind generation rights, as well as 25 percent of the mineral rights on the property. The sale price hasn’t been disclosed, but when the ranch was put on the market in December, the three divisions were listed at a combined $341.7 million. (The main division is about a hundred miles east of Lubbock, with the other two divisions situated north of Amarillo in the Texas Panhandle.)
Even Sheridan’s string of recent hits is unlikely to net most filmmakers that kind of scratch—that’s George Lucas/Steven Spielberg/James Cameron money—which means that Sheridan is almost certainly leading a group of buyers for the property. According to the Texas Spur, which covers Dickens and Kent counties, “Sheridan is the face of the buyer group,” which will claim ownership of the three working ranches on the property, as well as the brand, the name, the cattle and horses, and the employment contracts of the staff. Sheridan himself declined to confirm his role in the sale to the paper, saying, “I can’t comment on a pending transaction but I will say this: the legacy of the 6666 Ranch and Miss Marion’s vision for the ranch are vital not only to the ranch itself, but the rich heritage of ranching in Texas.”
Reading between the lines, the plan for the ranch is likely to keep things more or less the same. That means—like Sheridan’s horse ranch in Weatherford and cattle ranch in Jacksboro—it’ll probably remain a working ranch. We’d also expect, though, that the ranch will continue to be utilized as a shooting location for Sheridan’s projects. Production for Yellowstone took place on parts of the property last fall, and we strongly suspect that the forthcoming spin-off series—which literally bears the working title 6666—might find a way to use at least some of that mighty acreage as well. (And that other Yellowstone spin-off, prequel series Y: 1883? We’ll put it down as a maybe.) That’s the thing about a 266,000-acre property like 6666—a filmmaker could, if he wanted to, turn a portion of it into the biggest movie set ever built and still have 265,985 acres or so left for the ranching.
Sheridan’s specific plans for the property are still under wraps—his involvement in the offer is still under “open secret” status, rather than something he himself has confirmed—but at the very least, it’s clear that he cares about both ranching and filmmaking, and has found ways to incorporate both into his life. Considering how few buyers there are with access to capital in the $350 million range, landing 6666 Ranch with someone who views himself as a steward of its storied legacy—and who has built his career telling the stories of the sorts of folks who’ve made their livings at places like it—is probably about as good an outcome as the Burnett family could have dreamed up.