Costner’s expensive “Horizon” bites the box office dust

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“Inside Out 2,” featuring a personified Anxiety, maintained its position as the top film in North America for the third consecutive weekend. Meanwhile, “A Quiet Place: Day One,” a prequel filled with suspense, exceeded expectations with its strong ticket sales.

However, Kevin Costner’s three-hour “Horizon: An American Saga – Chapter 1” has largely been ignored by moviegoers. Initially destined for streaming, this supposed start to an Old West series eventually made it to theaters but failed to attract significant interest.

Pixar’s “Inside Out 2” was projected to earn $57.4 million, reaching a three-week total of approximately $470 million in the U.S. and Canada, according to Sunday estimates from box office analysts. This well-received sequel is nearing $1 billion in global ticket sales, a milestone last achieved by “Barbie” in July 2023.

“A Quiet Place: Day One” was expected to generate about $53 million in domestic sales over the weekend, surpassing pre-release expectations by more than 30 percent. The film, which cost Paramount around $67 million to produce, stars Lupita Nyong’o as a cancer patient who, along with her cat Frodo, faces an alien invasion of creatures with highly sensitive hearing.

Prequels often face challenges, with notable failures like “Furiosa: A Mad Max Saga,” “The First Omen,” and “Lightyear.” Fans’ familiarity with the story’s outcome can dampen excitement, and prequels frequently lack the original stars who made the franchise popular, such as Emily Blunt in the first two “Quiet Place” films.

The success of “Day One” is particularly noteworthy given the recent turmoil at Paramount. The studio’s controlling shareholder, Shari Redstone, ousted a top executive, dealt with a takeover bid, and ultimately abandoned the effort, causing stock prices to drop. Despite this, Paramount’s filmmaking team successfully brought “Day One” to market.

Costner’s “Horizon,” with a production cost of about $100 million and an additional $30 million for marketing, ranked a distant third, expected to earn $11 million. (Ticket sales are typically split 50-50 between theaters and studios.) Costner had hoped that fans of the hit series “Yellowstone,” especially those from the central U.S., would support the film, but this did not happen.

Box office experts doubt “Horizon” will gain momentum in the coming weeks due to poor reviews and a B-minus CinemaScore from audiences, indicating weak word of mouth.

Warner Bros. plans to release the second installment on August 16. Costner has already started filming Part 3 and announced a fourth installment. Warner Bros. is only acting as a distributor and has no financial stake in the films, earning about 8 percent of ticket sales for its services. To fund the project, Costner mortgaged properties in Santa Barbara, California, and secured private investors’ backing. He left “Yellowstone” to focus on “Horizon.”

“There are movies that defy the odds, break the mold, and prove the skeptics wrong,” said David A. Gross, a film consultant who publishes a box office newsletter. “In this case, the pattern is still intact: Westerns are not in fashion, and there hasn’t been a successful theatrical Western series in the last 50 years.”

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