Horizon: An American Saga Part Two Gets Delayed

Kevin Costner’s return to the Old West is going to have an even longer rollout than originally planned. The Hollywood Reporter exclusively reveals that Horizon: An American Saga Part Two will be delayed after Part One sank like a stone at the box office. Part Two was scheduled to be released on August 16, almost two months after Part One’s release. This was a joint decision between New Line Cinema, the film’s distributor via Warner Bros., and Territory Pictures, Kevin Costner’s production company; the reasoning behind this move is to give audiences more time to discover the movie on video on demand and streaming on HBO Max. Part One will be released on Premium VOD on July 16 while still playing in theaters, though no release date for HBO Max has been announced.

This is a bummer, but not because of the delay; I get that, and I’m glad the studios involved are at least giving Horizon a chance to find an audience, which is more than they do for a lot of films. The bummer is that it’s doing so poorly. I liked Horizon: An American Saga Part One very much; it’s got a lot of elements of classic Westerns, like the wonder of discovery, the various characters all headed to the same place for different reasons, and a sense of the danger, brutality, and other hardships of being on the frontier at the time. It’s also filmed beautifully, with spectacular Western vistas making you want to go on the journey with Costner and company (before an Apache attack smacks you back to reality). And I appreciated how the disparate characters allow you to see this period through different eyes, from those who’ve set down roots and suddenly have to run away, those seeking their fortunes on a harsh trail, those completely unprepared for life in the wilderness, the Natives who disagree about how to deal with the encroachment on land that was once only theirs, and those who just want to be left alone and do their own thing but are drawn into danger anyway.

Horizon delayed

On the other hand, I understand why people may not like it as much as I did or be put off from seeing it in theaters. It’s a long movie, about three hours, and it’s only the first act of the story – or, more accurately, the first part of the first act. It’s also very leisurely paced, with sporadic action and lots of talk about larger ideas of war and peace, manifest destiny, duty, family, and the like. It’s not for everyone, especially in a movie theater, and being the first of a four-part movie may feel like more of a commitment than a lot of people want to make. And it is very much that; this is not an individual movie and its sequels but one long, sprawling story, and like Dune: Part One (which I also loved), it just kind of ends when it ends. Even my enjoyment of it comes with the asterisk that a lot of it is based on my desire to see where it goes from here rather than because of any satisfactory resolution. Many have said it would have made a better miniseries, and that’s a fair argument. I think Costner wanted to make Horizon a series of movies because of the magnificent visuals that wouldn’t have been the same on a TV, but weighed against the length, pace, and sheer number of characters (and there are a lot), maybe the trade-off would’ve been worth it.

Horizon delayed

But I really hope this move is fruitful and Horizon: An American Saga Part One finds an audience that wants more. Selfishly, I want the rest of the story to happen, and that’s probably up in the air at the moment. Part Two is in the can, but Costner is filming Part Three right now; I don’t want to see this shut down before Part Four is made, and I don’t want another Batgirl situation where the studio locks the rest of it up forever to use it as a write-off (although since Costner’s production company is involved, that may not be possible). It’s also important to note that New Line and Warner Bros. don’t have a distribution deal for Part Three and Part Four, and if it loses too much money, it may be difficult for Costner to find a new distributor. But even if they release the rest of it directly to HBO, I want the story told – and I want the inevitable 4k box set of the whole shebang. I also want this to pay off for Kevin Costner; he invested a bunch of his own money into Horizon, and I want him to see success from that, especially since it’s an excellent movie (so far). My fingers are crossed for him, and for his American saga.

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