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Reveals Trailer for Western Epic ‘Horizon’

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Kevin Costner has released the first full trailer for Horizon: An American Saga, his wildly ambitious, four-part post-Civil War Western epic that helped lure the actor away from his other Western — Paramount Network’s Yellowstone.

The trailer (below) has a sweeping, old-fashioned grandeur and is full of scenic vistas, gunfights, romance, wagon trains, and a clash of civilizations between calvary soldiers and Indigenous people. “There’s no army on this earth that are going to stop those wagons coming,” a character played by Danny Huston warns.

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Costner co-wrote, directed and stars in the Horizon series. The first film will be released in theaters June 28, followed by its second chapter just two months later. The second two films haven’t yet been shot. The film has been a 30-year journey for Costner, who even took out a loan on his Santa Barbara home to help finance the picture (Costner notes the first two films added $100 million the economy in Utah, where they were shot).

“When no one wanted to make the first one, I got the bright idea to make four,” Costner said dryly during a moderated discussion about the Horizon trailer. “So I don’t know what’s wrong with me. But I wanted it to step away from what we usually see in Westerns where there’s a town that’s already there. No one knows how [the town] came to be. There’s a guy comes in off the horizon, if you will. We don’t know much about him, except that he has some skills he’d like to put behind him and this town ends up needing those stills desperately … Too often, it’s just a convenience for the hero guy to knock down a dumb guy.”

He continued, “We have a lot of Westerns that aren’t good too because they get simplified [but] this isn’t Disneyland. These are real lives. People just making their way, women just trying to keep their families clean and fed … I’m drawn to that. I’m always gonna get to my gunfight, but I’m drawn to the little things that people had to endure. So to me, Horizon was worth holding on to because I just felt like I wanted to tell it. It grew and it grew and it grew until suddenly I realized that I just had to make it, and I had to look to myself financially to do it — which is not the smartest thing. But I count on the movie speaking louder than anything I can say.”

Asked what was a bigger struggle, Horizon or making his Oscar-winning Dances With Wolves, Costner said the new films — which he spent six years writing — were tougher. “This is by far the biggest struggle. I shot Dances in 106 days. I shot the movie you’re just seeing right now in 52. I learned a lot and I was able to use every trick in the book to bring this movie to an audience — and there’s four of them.”

Much of Horizon‘s press has revolved around how the film has impacted the actor’s work on Paramount Network’s Western hit Yellowstone. Costner has been involved in a protracted and messy split with the hit drama as he’s shifted his focus to Horizon films. The show’s team complained that Costner has made himself less available for the series, while the actor’s team has blamed Yellowstone script delays. In either case, it’s very unclear if Costner will return to the show to finish patriarch John Dutton’s storyline when the show eventually returns for the second half of its fifth season. Paramount has announced those remaining episodes will end the series, and will then pivot to launching a Yellowstone sequel with the working title 2024.

In the trailer, the film’s palette pops so bright, the footage almost looks like Technicolor — a contrast to the more dark and gritty style largely embraced by Westerns since Clint Eastwood’s 1992 classic Unforgiven. “I think things that have a classic feel don’t fall out of [style],” Costner says. “I think they exist in any decade, and that’s the opportunity we have in cinema is to make something that lasts … I don’t have a tendency to follow trends or [look at] what’s really working.”

Regarding the film’s depiction of clashes between white settlers and Indigenous people, Costner said, “I’m ashamed of what happened — I don’t know that I’m ashamed or embarrassed — but I want to project what really happened,” he said. “There was a great injustice occurred in the West, but it doesn’t minimize the courage it took for my ancestors to cut loose and go there. And I recognized the resourcefulness it took and the bravery it took to leave and make this march across this country. It’s just a movie that shows the class of cultures. It’s our history. I love it. I can enjoy watching a movie like this if I feel like I can see myself in it, and I tried really hard for that to happen.”

Going a bit deeper on the subject of morality and the Old West — and being wading into some potentially controversial subject matter — Costner added, “I think it’s really a mistake to judge other people how they had to perform or act in another century. We kind of apply our own sensibilities where we live a life today where, when we’re offended, we have to get a lawyer or agent or publicity person — somebody to arbitrate our problems. Back then, you had to arbitrate your problems by yourself — which was terribly dramatic, especially if you’re dealing with a sociopath. You have to understand we were coming out of that terrible Civil War. And if anyone believes in post-traumatic stress, there was only about 30 million people in America at the time and that war went on for four years. We lost 56,000 men in Vietnam. We lost 600,000 in the Civil War. People came West, sometimes with a lot of hope, bringing their family, and others came West because they were damaged and were running away from something.”

He continued, “The stranger was a boogyman. If you were a stranger 120 years ago, people were afraid of you because they didn’t know if that was really your name or what you’d really done. Like the trailer says, if you were strong enough, if they were mean enough, they could hold on to something, they could take it away from you. And when you can create that architecture in a movie where anything is possible, some people get lucky and some people are not lucky. And when they tried to look at their wife who asked, ‘Why are we going out here?’ The man simply said, ‘We’re going to be luckier than that.’ And that’s how this country got settled and the American native Indians were crushed under this movement. They didn’t stand a chance.”

Horizon also stars Sienna Miller, Sam Worthington, Jena Malone, Abbey Lee, Michael Rooker, Huston, Luke Wilson, Isabelle Fuhrman, Jeff Fahey, Will Patton, Tatanka Means, Owen Crow Shoe, Ella Hunt and Jamie Campbell Bower.

Costner is producing with Howard Kaplan and Mark Gillard. The films come more than three decades after Costner took home a directing Oscar for Dances With Wolves, which also won best picture.

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