February 20, 2002 01:00 PM

Will Kevin Costner break his long-running critical and box-office jinx with his new movie, the supernatural thriller “Dragonfly”? That is the question being asked on both coasts as the one-time hottest star around prepares to open the flick this Friday. “About a decade ago, he was one of the biggest A-list stars in Hollywood,” Gitesh Pandya, editor of Boxofficeguru.com, told the Los Angeles Times. “He could not do wrong.” But, as Pandya went on to say, “He really needs to pick the right projects with the right directors and the right scripts. I wouldn’t toss him aside — his agent just needs to find him the right role.” The New York Post, in an extremely tough analysis of Costner’s career, cited as reasons for his waning appeal the 47-year-old star’s bulging waistline, his receding hairline and his expanding ego since the Oscar sweep of his 1991 “Dances With Wolves,” which, that paper says, has caused him to interfere with his directors’ work on his subsequent movies, to the detriment of the projects. “Dragonfly” is considered a change of pace for its director, Tom Shadyac, best known for such comedies as “Ace Ventura” and “The Nutty Professor.” In “Dragonfly,” Costner plays a doctor who is convinced that his dead wife is trying to communicate with him using the sign of a dragonfly and through some near-death experiences of his patients. The picture is being released by Universal, with whom Costner has had a dodgy past relationship, notes the Times. The last time he worked for the studio, in the 1999 baseball drama “For Love of the Game,” Costner criticized the trimming of several lines of humorous, obscenity-laced dialogue so that the film could receive a PG-13 rating. His outbursts to the press in the matter reportedly irked studio brass, which then publicly backed director Sam Raimi over the actor. The Times goes on to note that after last year’s disastrous “3,000 Miles to Graceland,” the actor could use even a moderate hit.

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