Paulie’s Perspective: Costner on the Horizon

Costner on the Horizon

by Paul Bernardo

More and More we are seeing Hollywood’s elite making their own movies, with their own money on their own terms. Coppola with Megalopolis and now Kevin Costner is doubling down with what he hopes is a four part epic: Horizon: An American Saga. At the moment though, only chapters 1 and 2 are shot and completed. I believe Costner is looking for financing to finish off chapters 3 and 4.

Costner shot through the stratosphere once again recently starring in the immense hit show, Yellowstone, created by Taylor Sheridan. Taylor went off to create many spinoffs and a small production empire, and Costner focused on making his magnum opus. Something he has been working on for over 15 years, and which he feels needs four chapters to tell it properly. We know it’s around the time of the Civil War, and the expansion of America. Costner has a lot of experience with this era, starting with his Oscar winning directorial debut, Dances With Wolves, to the more recent acclaimed limited series, Hatfields and McCoys. Costner seems infatuated with this era of American history and seems to think that he has much more to say on the subject. Both projects were immense critical and financial successes, so he might be onto something there.

The fact that no major studio would back him up on this, given his legendary track record of success specifically in this genre, is disheartening and perhaps a hint at the future of Hollywood. Warner Bros has signed to release the film’s chapters 1 and 2, but that company did have some very hard times recently. Perhaps the studios are too caught up in the cookie cutter ease of financial gain from the DC and Marvel Universes. After all, they did make a lot of money from those brands. Signing stars to multi-picture deals cheaply right from the start, no fuss, no mess. Scripts pretty much all alike, board rooms agreeing on everything. Limited gambles to the say the least. No big risk, no big new ideas, no gut feelings, no instincts. Just more of the same, and guaranteed profit. If Hollywood won’t gamble on lifelong hit makers like Costner or Coppola, then who will they gamble on? Will they ever gamble again or just go with remakes, reboots and sequels?

Big names in Hollywood just don’t seem to matter anymore. Billy Crystal begged the studio to make Parental Guidance 2, but they refused, saying that there was no merchandise to sell won’t make it worth it, and focus groups say there was no interest. Yet they make 6 Mad Max movies, and 5 Thor movies, and 11 Fast and Furious movies. Hollywood is making the art of film in the path of least resistance. Which as we all know, is how you make the worst art possible, of any kind. Then they wonder why box office numbers are so low, maybe they should ask why the quality of product is so low instead.

At an interview in Cannes, Costner was asked about the amount of his own money he had invested in Horizon: An American Saga. Rumors say it was 20 million dollars. Costner then said the real number was closer to 38 million. He then went on to say he was knocking on doors, and boats all over Cannes looking for financiers and donors to help him complete the massive four chapter epic. I guess Hollywood had turned their backs on him and wished him good luck. Even after Dances with Wolves, even after Hatfield and McCoys and even after Yellowstone. If that’s not taming the wild wild west, I don’t know what is.

As it stands now, Chapter 1 is being released in theaters June 28, and Chapter 2 is being released August 16.