Kevin Costner in Horizon An American Saga Chapter 1

Kevin Costner‘s period Western Horizon: An American Saga — Chapter 2 won’t be riding into theaters on Aug. 16 after all.

The film is being pulled from the release calendar for now after Horizon: An American Saga — Chapter 1 bit the dust in its theatrical debut late last month. A new date has yet to be announced for the sequel, but a theatrical release is still the intention.

After numerous discussions, Costner’s Territory Pictures and distribution partner New Line Cinema made the decision to switch up their ambitious release plan in hopes of allowing more time to grow the audience for the first film, which sports a $100 million price tag.

As part of that attempt, Chapter 1 will debut in the home on Premium VOD July 16 in addition to still being available to watch in theaters (the film could do notable business on PVOD).

“Territory Pictures and New Line Cinema have decided not to release Horizon: Chapter 2 on August 16 in order to give audiences a greater opportunity to discover the first installment of Horizon over the coming weeks, including on PVOD and Max. We thank our exhibition partners for their continued support as moviegoers across the U.S. discover the film in its theatrical run,” a New Line spokesperson said.

Added Territory Pictures in a separate statement, “The audience response to Horizon, and enthusiasm for seeing our story continue in Horizon 2, has been incredibly gratifying. Kevin made this film for people who love movies and who wanted to go on a journey. The support that we have received from film fans, and the theater owners, as they experience the first chapter of this saga only serves to reinforce our belief in them and the films that we have made, and we thank them for coming on board for the ride. We welcome the opportunity for that window to be expanded as we know it will only serve to enhance the experience of seeing Horizon 2.”

A debut date for Max has not yet been announced.

Warner Bros., New Line’s parent company, began notifying theater owners of the dramatic eleventh-hour change Wednesday morning. Many cinemas had offered consumers the chance to buy advance tickets for Chapter 2; they will now have to be refunded.

The Horizon series marks a major gamble for Costner, who put $38 million of his own money into Chapter 1 and funded the rest with the help of two mystery investors and by selling off foreign rights. New Line and Warners agreed to distribute and market the first two movies for a fee, with Costner ponying up for the marketing. Costner intends on making four films in total.

Horizon: Chapter 1, sporting a running time of three hours and one minute, opened to just $11 million over the June 28-30 weekend. It was an alarming debut for the $100 million movie, which was hampered by a poor B- CinemaScore and tepid reviews (it has a 43 percent critics’ rating on Rotten Tomatoes). It tumbled 51 percent in its second weekend to $5.4 million for a 10-day domestic total of $22 million. Worse, it’s earned less than $3 million overseas.

Chapter 2 likewise cost roughly $100 million to make. Costner’s team indicated last week that he intends to resume shooting Chapter 3 in August.

Costner is known for his confidence, but even so, he shocked Hollywood when he announced he would direct for the first time in decades and make four Horizon movies chronicling the great migration West during the Civil War era. In April, Warner Bros. signed on as a distributor and announced the unprecedented plan to release the first two films less than two months apart. Costner was so invested that he left his hit show Yellowstone amid his Horizon commitments.

Costner believed his film would strike a nerve in America’s heartland — just as Yellowstone has — and while it indeed played best in the mountain regions, Midwest, South and South Central states, it so far has failed to galvanize his fans or Yellowstone viewers to the desired degree, and particularly Yellowstone fans who are between ages 18 and 44. The movie, not surprisingly, is skewing notably older, with the majority of the audience over the age of 45 (older consumers are not known for rushing out to see a film right away).

The marketing campaign crafted by Warner Bros. centered heavily on Costner, who toured the country, as well as premiering the film at the Cannes Film Festival. The studio also leveraged sister companies that are part of Warner Bros. Discovery, including TNT sporting events, such as MLB and NBA games, and TCM, where Costner appeared as a guest programmer. There also were extensive screening programs in numerous cities, as well as visits to military bases.

So far, there’s no word as to when Horizon: Chapter 2 will return to the theatrical calendar. Warner Bros. and New Line did not pick up distribution rights to the third and fourth movies.

Aaron Couch contributed to this report.

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