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Horizon: An American Saga – Chapter 1 (2024) (1 Viewer)

Philip Verdieck

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There are some rather huge movies at Cannes this year. Probably none bigger than this, potentially 12 hours in 4 films. I'm really excited that my summer is going to entail going to a cinema to see 6 hours of western on a big screen. Awesome!

Apparently, as Coppola did with his film, Costner self-financed this to some degree. And like Coppola, some people are calling this film self-indulgent.

I think the thing that will be self-indulgent about this will be if he completes it, and it is four 3 hour films, it will take 12 hours of your time any time you want to rewatch it. That's a big commitment. Still, a massive western project like this, I guess in a time like this, is kind of like a minor miracle.

I am all in and ready to indulge myself.
I think if you ever called one of Costner's movies "self-indulgent" it should be treated as a positive result of a self-administered douchebag test. Its a not so subtle jibe and a means of attacking someone with the balls to produce an epic and it shows how small you are when you need to tear something down because you can't do it yourself.

I am also curious which directors aren't "self-indulgent", its basically their job to produce the film by indulging in decisions they see fit.

We are basically seeing a mini-series produced here, but in 3 hour allotments. I think its a great idea. Its a way to bring book series to the screen, as seen in LoTR. Its also a pretty good way to fill theater seats. Instead of just 1 movie, or a sequel in the future, maybe, you get 2 tickets sales, then a couple more in the future.

As long as it doesn't suck.
 
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Winston T. Boogie

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It'll be interesting to see if these all get wide theatrical releases. Seems like if the first or second bombs or disappoints, the rest may go to streaming or be limited releases. I'm somewhat skeptical that mass audiences will want to sit through potentially 12 hours of this in theaters.

I am clueless as to what audiences want to see now. I've read articles claiming the western is back, in part because of Costner and his Yellowstone series. Now, as far as the cinema goes, I mean, there is the occasional western released, most are small budget affairs. So, really I guess, as you say, how these first two perform at the box office this summer could impact the fate of the next two installments. I think he is going to start shooting part three soon, if he has not already. I will say, he kind of tore through shooting the first two films, that happened fast. Makes me think he knows exactly what he is going for. On a hot summer day, I think a wonderful way to spend 3 hours of my time is sitting in a cinema watching a western. In fact, I may see both chapters more than once at the theater this summer.

12 hours of western does sound like something designed for streaming, but Costner is no stranger to long running times.

I am up for this but I admit my bias here and love of the genre.

I do wonder, do audiences that did not live through the period where westerns were a thing get the same feeling that those of us that grew up on westerns do when they see one...particularly how cinematic they are on a big screen.

12 hours is a lot of movie but if they like the story and characters, to quote another Costner film, if he builds it they will come. I assume he is hoping to lure in the Yellowstone audience, which as I understand it, is quite large. I have to admit, I've never seen Yellowstone.
 

SD_Brian

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lol. I liked The Postman. 🤪
I didn't dislike The Postman, but I also haven't felt the urge to re-watch it since 1997.

Regarding Horizon, the early review I read complained that nothing of consequence happens in the first three hours, and that it was all tedious set-up for things to happen later, rather than being a self-contained chapter. If that's true, it will be interesting to see if audiences show up to theaters for part 2, as people seem to be more tolerant of long-form storytelling when they don't have to leave the house.
 

Robert Crawford

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I moved some posts from the Horizon: Part II thread to the Part 1 thread because Part I opens in June while Part II doesn't open until second half of August.
 

Robert Crawford

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Regarding Horizon, the early review I read complained that nothing of consequence happens in the first three hours, and that it was all tedious set-up for things to happen later, rather than being a self-contained chapter. If that's true, it will be interesting to see if audiences show up to theaters for part 2, as people seem to be more tolerant of long-form storytelling when they don't have to leave the house.
I'll be there in June for the first part and will attend the second part in August. After that, we'll see...
 

Winston T. Boogie

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I didn't dislike The Postman, but I also haven't felt the urge to re-watch it since 1997.

Regarding Horizon, the early review I read complained that nothing of consequence happens in the first three hours, and that it was all tedious set-up for things to happen later, rather than being a self-contained chapter. If that's true, it will be interesting to see if audiences show up to theaters for part 2, as people seem to be more tolerant of long-form storytelling when they don't have to leave the house.

Well, I have seen a Dune comparison about this, that the first film is a lot of intro and set-up and then things really take off in part two. I have heard Costner's character does not appear until they are an hour into the film. The thing is, I think pacing is a bit of a lost art, and perhaps he has paced this film in such a way that you do have a build-up and then payoff. I'm fine with a languid beginning if it is building toward bigger things. Critics now would likely complain that the opening of Once Upon a Time in the West is far too slow and lazy. Which is obviously blasphemy. Ha.
 

Walter Kittel

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Esther Zuckerman gave the first installment a fairly negative review over at The Daily Beast. Even if one discounts certain aspects of the review with respect to more modern sensibilities, it sounds like Costner might have put too many irons in the fire in terms of the plot. I am going to assume ( perhaps incorrectly :) ) that Brian's comments regarding 'nothing of consequence' came from Zuckerman's review as that is one of the prominent critiques.

Interested parties can Google it; since The Daily Beast covers a lot of political news I'll refrain from the usual practice of posting a link to the review.

- Walter.
 

SD_Brian

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The thing is, I think pacing is a bit of a lost art, and perhaps he has paced this film in such a way that you do have a build-up and then payoff. I'm fine with a languid beginning if it is building toward bigger things. Critics now would likely complain that the opening of Once Upon a Time in the West is far too slow and lazy.
You are absolutely correct that proper pacing can make all the difference. Ridley Scott's Kingdom of Heaven and Oliver Stone's Alexander are good examples of movies where the longer versions feel much shorter than the truncated theatrical releases because the longer versions are much better paced.

The difference with Once Upon a Time in the West, of course, is that after 165 minutes, you're done: you don't have another 9 hours left to sit through.

This project seems like an audacious gamble, and I for one am hoping Costner can pull it off.
 
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SD_Brian

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I am going to assume (perhaps incorrectly :) ) that Brian's comments regarding 'nothing of consequence' came from Zuckerman's review as that is one of the prominent critiques.
The review I read was by Nicholas Barber at BBC.

Ever since Dances With Wolves, critics have seemed to have their knives sharpened for Kevin Costner. It's always a race to be the first to refer to whatever is Costner's latest epic as "Kevin's Gate."
 
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Kevin Antonio (Kev)

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Who the freak is Esther Zuckerman and what does she know about what makes a good western?
Honestly when have most critics ever been fair to crime films and westerns? It seems they always find a way to chalk those films up as " genre " fare for people that are fans of those genres. We just gotta ignore many of these people and see it for ourselves. Many of the themes that make a great western wouldn't be embrace today or viewed as outdated regardless of history even.
 

TravisR

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I am clueless as to what audiences want to see now. I've read articles claiming the western is back, in part because of Costner and his Yellowstone series.
I think Costner and, by extension, Yellowstone will get an older crowd to turn out for this movie and it'll do well. And it's a genius move to release Part 2 six or so weeks later because the first one will still be on people's minds and memories and they'll gladly go see the next "episode" so soon after the first.
 

Walter Kittel

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I think Costner and, by extension, Yellowstone will get an older crowd to turn out for this movie and it'll do well. And it's a genius move to release Part 2 six or so weeks later because the first one will still be on people's minds and memories and they'll gladly go see the next "episode" so soon after the first.

Stating the obvious here, but that assumes they enjoy the first film. :)

- Walter.
 

Winston T. Boogie

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I think Costner and, by extension, Yellowstone will get an older crowd to turn out for this movie and it'll do well. And it's a genius move to release Part 2 six or so weeks later because the first one will still be on people's minds and memories and they'll gladly go see the next "episode" so soon after the first.

I am hoping that there is a renewed love for westerns out there and people go to see this in the theater. I also hope that the oddity of there being two films released in the same summer a month apart will generate some excitement. With the Barbie/Oppenheimer thing that seemed to get big because people treated it as a unique event to see both films, even though the audiences for each did not really seem like crossover audiences. I went to both films in the theater and the pink clad almost entirely female crowd at Barbie, including many children, did not, to me, seem like people that would also go to see Oppenheimer. Obviously, a bunch of people saw both and doing so became an event.

I think the thing the two films had in common was their indie spirit and that they were unique pictures. If I had seen Barbie at an advanced screening, I would have come out of it thinking it would be a flop, not because I did not like it, I thought it was about as good a toy movie as you could make, but because it was a sort of melancholy story about how difficult it is to be female and about coping with aging. Not exactly box office smash topics. Somehow though, it worked. People loved it.

Now, a Kevin Costner western is probably not going to have women taking their daughters to see the film but maybe this summer can be the summer where the "event" is seeing the Horizon two chapters. How do we get that to be a meme like Barbenheimer?
 

Malcolm R

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Reported budget for the first two films is $100 million, so they'd need to average a gross of about $150 million each to reach profitability. Not out of reach, but it would probably have to be mostly from North America as I don't think westerns always travel well internationally.
 

Josh Steinberg

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They don’t seem to be overspending on advertising which will hopefully help. Maybe a little bit from international, streaming, cable, etc. I’d also very much like to see this succeed. The idea of a two part film shot back to back that doesn’t keep its audience waiting years arbitrarily made by a talented filmmaker is pretty appealing to me.
 

Winston T. Boogie

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So, I heard some comments about this from people that have seen it. To me they were very encouraging comments and I will share these couple points because I think they will sort of indicate why some will love this movie and some may not. No spoilers in this, it is just general comments about the film. No plot or story.

A guy that saw it said that Costner made this film as if he was shooting it in the 1930s or 1940s. Meaning it is actually presented as and in the manner of an old fashioned western. No nods to irony or paying tribute to scenes from years of other western films. The story is presented in a serious manner and seems like it was made as if the changes that Spaghetti westerns and revisionist westerns, and all the westerns that are basically westerns that pay tribute to other western films never happened.

So, if you are a fan of old fashioned westerns, you are going to like this. It does have a languid pace BUT this pacing if you allow yourself to go with it, and the beautiful photography, make it feel like you are there wandering through the old west. That sounds good to me. I don't want to hype too much but the comment made about this is it feels like it has a lot of Ford and Hawks at play here but not in a tribute sense.

Costner's character does not appear on screen until about an hour into the film but when he does, things do really get juiced up and he becomes the center of gravity that the rest of chapter one spins around. This also sounds good to me, in that the hour of build-up before he shows up pays off when he does, because now we are immersed in the world of the film, know some of the characters, and we are ready to see how his character starts dealing with things. Costner's character is said to be a great laconic hero. So, that sounds good too.

OK, so that said, he also said a couple things that make it seem almost as if this was made for TV in that when chapter one ends, it just stops. So, there is no real arc for the characters and story that would make this a standalone film. The way it ends is like how an episode of a TV show would end, with you knowing that is not the end, that is just where they stop telling the story until you see the next episode.

I'm fine with this because, we already know this is chapter one and chapter two comes in August. So, this is not a standalone picture, we know that, it continues in another film with a month and a half break in between.

The only piece of info that I was not crazy about is that after chapter one ends, I guess they show some highlights of what is coming in chapter two. So, that is very TV like and in the way they do that, I guess that will make a lot of people feel they are watching episodic TV. I would have preferred he not do that or that when the film comes out in June that they cut that out but I guess showing what is coming up in chapter two is meant to be the hook to draw people back into the cinema when chapter two comes out. I get that, but it's just one of those things I am not into, I don't like it when they do it for TV shows, show you clips of what is coming next week.

So, there are just a few things to know about what he has made. It seems like it is a film for lovers of traditional westerns, it does have a lot of characters that they take time to introduce you to, like a TV show (and I guess if this is twelve hours long it probably requires some character intros like a TV show would), the acting is said to be very good, the photography beautiful, the old west feel outstanding.

I think this all sounds positive and that this could end up being a really great western. So, I remain very excited for it.
 

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