Kevin Costner’s Yellowstone Replacement Chances Look Dead After $100 Million Gamble Backfires

Horizon: An American Saga, directed by and starring Kevin Costner, follows a civil war between families, friends, and foes in the Old West – another Western project under his belt with similarities to his TV series Yellowstone. Costner’s work on the television series Yellowstone was a major success, enjoying critical success and becoming a major hit with audiences. However, Horizon: An American Saga hasn’t made a similar impact, highlighting that the film falls short of the high bar that Yellowstone has set.

Costner decided to leave Yellowstone in order to pursue doing Horizon: An American Saga – which now appears as a questionable gamble. The show’s accomplishments confirmed Costner as an unstoppable force in the Western genre, but the film has fallen short of replicating the show’s achievements on opening weekend. Costner’s confirmation of no Yellowstone return has broached discussions on whether he miscalculated how much of a challenge it is to try and create another successful project in the competitive territory of the Westerns. However, while this remains an open issue, it’s clear that Horizon is unlikely to replace Yellowstone in the public consciousness.

Horizon: An American Saga Is Not As Successful As Yellowstone
Kevin Costner as Hayes Ellison in Horizon: An American Saga and as John Dutton in Yellowstone

Despite both being Westerns, Horizon: An American Saga did not match the success of Yellowstone, as the numbers from the opening weekend showed the film to be a flop. The first portion of the intended four parts of Horizon only made a fraction of the film’s $100 million budget – $11 million, to be exact. Costner even contributed over $35 million of his own savings towards the film’s budget, his own funds being more than what the film made on its first weekend.

Yellowstone, however, is a juggernaut on television that brought in almost 16 million viewers in its season 5 premiere. The contrast between the quality of the projects is significant, since Horizon: An American Saga failed to make a strong impression and a lasting effect at the box office, making Costner’s new Western struggle make his Yellowstone exit worse. Yellowstone’s impressive and growing viewership emphasizes its dominance in the Western genre, drastically outshining the film in its debut.

Horizon’s Rotten Tomatoes Scores Are Well Below Yellowstone’s
Kevin Costner as Hayes sitting and staring at somebody in Horizon An American Saga

The ratings for Horizon: An American Saga and Yellowstone emphasize a difference in reception in both audience scores and critical reviews. Horizon debuted with one of Costner’s worst Rotten Tomatoes scores with a 41% critical rating on the review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes, indicating a mixed response. By contrast, Yellowstone has a praise-worthy 84% on Rotten Tomatoes and 8.7/10 on IMDb, reflecting widespread approval from audiences and critics.

The compelling character narrative and storytelling in Yellowstone set a high bar in the Western genre, one that Horizon has struggled to emulate and achieve in its three-hour runtime.

The differences in ratings reflect the gap in audience engagement and quality between Horizon: An American Saga and Yellowstone. The compelling character narrative and storytelling in Yellowstone set a high bar in the Western genre, one that Horizon has struggled to emulate and achieve in its three-hour runtime. The stark contrast in ratings between the two projects clearly positions Horizon as a brutal reality check for Costner after his Yellowstone exit.


Horizon Might Struggle To Finish Kevin Costner’s Story
Kevin Costner in Horizon An American Saga

Unless the second movie in the Horizon: An American Saga franchise has a substantial improvement from this first installment, it may be increasingly difficult – and unlikely – to have the needed funds and viewers for the next three films. Capturing an audience that’s tailored to the Western genre will bring in the necessary box office returns, and only then will the future of the franchise mend from its devastating performance on opening weekend.

The film faces challenges for the future since Costner’s intended four-movie Horizon franchise had a lackluster performance at the box office. The monetary reception hasn’t generated enough revenue to make up for the film’s budget – and box office prospects for Horizon are reportedly getting worse – so if the rest of the franchise follows in the footsteps of the first installment, then Costner’s vision might make his pockets empty. The financial shortfall casts a shadow of doubt on the franchise’s feasibility.

Kevin Costner’s new Western film Horizon: An American Saga fails to replace the success of Yellowstone, the show keeping its place as one of the greats in the genre. Despite the flop on opening weekend, Costner stays true to his plan to keep the franchise alive for the forthcoming future. The question if the upcoming films will be successful relies on whether the franchise can capture the necessary audience to generate enough revenue at the box office to continue Costner’s vision.

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