'Horizon: An American Saga' Critics Crush Kevin Costner's Western Epic – Forbes

Kevin Costner in “Horizon: An American Saga – Chapter 1.”
Kevin Costner’s Western Horizon: An American Saga – Chapter 1 is new in theaters and critics largely aren’t impressed with his first of four planned Horizon movies.
Costner staged the world premiere of Horizon in May at the Cannes Film Festival in the South of France. However, a slate of bad reviews for Horizon out of Cannes was only the first blow for Costner. The second blow came in early June when The Hollywood Reporter noted that the film was tracking to make only $12 million in its opening weekend.
The number is concerning, considering the former Yellowstone star—per Variety—invested $38 million of his own money in the film’s $100 million production budget before prints and advertising. The rest of the movie, Variety added, was funded by two unnamed investors.
Warner Bros. is distributing the film, which is opening in 3,300 theaters on Friday.
One of the most damning reviews out of Cannes came from the Daily Beast with a headline that reads, “Kevin Costner’s ‘Horizon’ Is a Misogynistic, Racist, Retrograde Mess.”
Also in the Daily Beast review, critic Esther Zuckerman writes, “The biggest problem with Horizon is that, even with its lengthy running time, Costner has only scratched the surface of the ‘saga’ he’s trying to tell. There is no arc to what happens, just the seemingly unending introduction of characters. Chapter 1 doesn’t end. Rather it just trails off into a clip reel of what’s to come like one of those ‘this season on …’ promos that comes at the beginning of a television show.”
Luckily for the actor-director-producer, there have been some positive notices rolling in for Horizon. The film currently has a 40% “rotten” rating from Rotten Tomatoes critics based on 68 reviews.
Luckily for the actor-director-producer, there have been some positive notices rolling in for Horizon. The film currently has a 40% “rotten” rating from Rotten Tomatoes critics based on 68 reviews.
That number could go up or down depending on how many more RT critics weigh in throughout the film’s first weekend. However, it’s not looking good for the rating to rise, considering that Horizon started Thursday with a 50% “rotten” score and dropped 10 percentage points by Friday morning.
Critics’ ratings aside, the key number for Horizon is the amount of dollars the 3-hour and 1-minute film can make in its opening weekend. After all, a low turnout for Chapter 1 of Horizon won’t bode well for Chapter 2, which is opening in theaters on August 16.
The official logline for Horizon: An American Saga reads, “Oscar-winning director Kevin Costner chronicles the incredible epic journey of the expansion of the American West, before and after the Civil War.
“Between the Native Americans who saw their lands getting colonized and those who were determined to settle there, sometimes at any cost, history is being written. In a flamboyant fresco where multiple destinies intertwine, dreams and hopes face obstacles and cruelty to offer a cinematic spectacle of exceptional scope and emotional depth.”
Among the positive reviews of the film on Rotten Tomatoes, Robbie Collin of the Daily Telegraph in the UK writes, “Part of the pleasure of Horizon is the sheer, magisterial sweep of the thing – with mountains and buttes and mesas like these, who needs CG? But its texture lives in small, telling details.”
Meanwhile, Helen O’Hara of Empire Magazine points out Horizon’s flaws but still notes, “It’s fine for an epic to sprawl, but you want a sense of purpose at the same time, and this one sometimes loses its way. Still, it’s handsomely shot and well performed, a throwback to the glory days of event-movie horse operas.”
On the negative side, Katie Walsh of the Daily Tribune writes, “Horizon is the kind of auteur project that makes one long for the idea of studio notes, for anyone to push back on Costner’s worst instincts. Unfortunately, he proves to be the judge, jury and executioner of his own passion project.”
Brian Lowrey of CNN wasn’t impressed with Horizon either, writing, “Nobody has done more to keep the western flame kindling on the big screen than Kevin Costner, but the audacity of his latest rodeo feels like overreach, if not outright folly.”
If it’s any consolation, the RT Audience Score is 71% “fresh” based on 100-plus viewer ratings.
Also starring Sienna Miller, Sam Worthington and Michael Rooker, Horizon: An American Saga opens in theaters nationwide on Friday.
Note: This story has been updated to reflect the updated Rotten Tomatoes critics’ score through Friday morning.

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