With Horizon Poised to Flop, Should Kevin Costner Have Stuck With Yellowstone?

Some of our younger readers might not remember this, but in the early 1990s, Kevin Costner was objectively the biggest thing in Hollywood.

The impressive streak of Field of Dreams, Dances With Wolves, JFK, Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves, and The Bodyguard cemented Costner’s place as one of the most bankable box office draws of his generation.

The fact that Costner wrote, directed, and starred in Wolves — which went on to win several Oscars, including Best Picture — had many industry scribes drawing comparisons to a young Orson Welles.

A Walking Cautionary Tale

But even the brightest stars can be eclipsed by a string of historic flops, and by the end of the decade, Costner’s name was synonymous with “box office poison.”

1995’s Waterworld and 1997’s The Postman — both written, directed by, and starring Costner — were such colossal (and colossally expensive) failures that they combined to make Costner a sort of industry-wide punchline.

Many who had praised his talents just a year or two earlier were now blasting the ambitious auteur for his hubris.

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The man who had so recently been described as Hollywood’s greatest success story was now considered hopelessly washed up in his early forties.

But Costner didn’t give up, and while the roles may have gotten smaller (Superman’s dad in Man of Steel, the protagonists’ boss in Hidden Figures) the work remained steady.

An Inspirational Comeback

Finally, in 2012, Costner struck career gold in the most unexpected of places — on television.

He won his first Emmy for his work in the limited series The Hatfields & McCoys.

The show announced both Costner’s return to the Western genre and his willingness to appear on the small screen.

That gig led to the project that has defined the past decade of Costner’s career.

We’re talking, of course, about Taylor Sheridan’s horse opera, Yellowstone.

Alas, the partnership between Costner and Sheridan was not long for this world.

Maybe it was a case of dueling egos, or perhaps Costner harbord old-fashioned ideas about the television medium and its inherent inferiority to feature films.

It seems that each anonymous insider who has spoken out about the situation has offered a conflicting account.

Whatever the case, after four seasons as John Dutton, Costner left the ranch behind to embark upon the riskiest and most ambitious project of his career:

Related: Horizon: An American Saga: Release Date, Cast, Trailer, and Everything We Know About Kevin Costner’s Western Epic

Costner quit Yellowstone and sold his home in order to partially self-finance Horizon: An American Saga, his multi-part epic feature about the settling of the American West.

The first installment (Costner has already filmed one sequel, and he’s hoping to release two more) is set for release this weekend.

The 69-year-old might have more riding on this film than any star has ever gambled on a single movie in the entire history of Hollywood.

His reputation and his legacy are on the line in ways both subtle and obvious.

And sources close to Costner say his single-minded devotion to this project played a major role in the destruction of his marriage to Christine Baumgartner.

Even if you’re not a fan of his work, there’s no denying that Costner’s dedication to his craft and his willingness to take massive risks are both eminently admirable.

So it brings us no pleasure to report that his latest film is poised to be yet another of Costner’s colossal flops.

History Repeats Itself

Deadline is reporting today that Horizon: An American Saga — Chapter 1 pulled in just $800,000 in Thursday night previews

It’s worth noting that the target demographic for the movie skews older, meaning that they’re not the type that typically goes in for late weeknight screenings.

And, of course, the film was competing with a presidential debate that was watched by nearly 50 million viewers.

But to put things in perspective, the horror prequel A Quiet Place: Day One opened with nearly $7 million at the box office on Thursday.

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And Costner’s film will have additional stiff competition in the forms of Inside Out 2, which is still holding strong, as well as the upcoming holiday releases Despicable Me 4 and MaXXXine.

Equally discouraging is Horizon’s performance with critics.

The film currently holds a 39% approval rating at Rotten Tomatoes, meaning that its chances of earning a second life come award season are slim to none.

In other words, Costner sacrificed his career, his reputation, and perhaps even his marriage for a project that seems doomed to abject failure.

All of this comes on the heels of confirmations that Costner will not be returning to Yellowstone for the show’s final episodes, and the timing underscores the size of his gamble and the potential for career-ending devastation if it doesn’t pay off.

Obviously, Kevin Costner has lived a life of tremendous achievement, and we’re sure he’ll be just fine no matter how this all plays out.

And since he’s been down this road before, we’re guessing he’s emotionally equipped to handle the vagaries that come with a career in the movies.

But if there’s any truth to the rumors that Costner burned every bridge on his way out of Yellowstone, then Taylor Sheridan and company might wind up enjoying the last laugh this weekend.

What say you, TV fanatics? Will you be ignoring the critics and checking out Horizon: An American Saga this weekend? Hit the comments section below to let us know!

Tyler Johnson is an Associate Editor for TV Fanatic and the other Mediavine O&O sites. In his spare time, he enjoys reading, cooking, and, of course, watching TV. You can Follow him on X and email him here at TV Fanatic.

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