'Horizon' director Kevin Costner grateful 'God allowed' him to make epic movie despite massive personal risks

Oscar-winner Kevin Costner heads west with 'Horizon' after 'Yellowstone' stint

Kevin Costner bet it all on the box office with his latest feature film, "Horizon: An American Saga."

He released the first trailer for the four-part, post-Civil War drama on Monday, and showcased the Wild West frontier his name has become synonymous with for decades, dating back to his first directorial stint on "Dances with Wolves."

Costner shared gratitude to God for allowing him to even make the first two films during a Zoom panel. "I’m terribly satisfied in my own life that God allowed me to get these first two done," Costner said. "I mean, if I’m hit by lightning, who knows what happens? At least I went West."

The first part of the Western saga debuts in theaters on Friday, June 28, while the second part of the drama will be released 49 days later, on Friday, Aug. 16.


Kevin Costner in Horizon and on the red carpet

Kevin Costner is "closer to his power" in "Horizon," but still faces many risks with the four-part epic. (Getty Images)

Brand expert Doug Eldridge believes "Horizon" will do "unbelievably well" and that Costner is "smart to seize on the opening" to fill the void left behind from his "Yellowstone" departure.


"Every story has two sides and Costner is undertaking a genuine effort to represent both elements of history, backstopped with a deep, A-list cast, and a renewed national hunger for patriotic, Western cinema," Eldridge said. "His timing, tone and assembled talent couldn't be better. Prepare for a massive hit."

Kevin Costner wears cowboy hat while riding a horse in Horizon trailer

In addition to starring in the Western drama, Costner directed the film and also co-wrote "Horizon." (Warner Bros.)


Eldridge recalled success at the box office when "The Matrix" was released in May and November 2003. 

"Given the recent instability across the entertainment ecosystem – from COVID shutdowns to the writers' strike, which nearly crippled Hollywood altogether – Costner is smart to shoot, package, and release each piece in short order," Eldridge said.

Cowboys shoot guns from the back of a horse-drawn wagon

"Horizon: An American Saga" takes place the post-Civil War West. (Warner Bros.)

Kevin Costner walks red carpet at Golden Globes

Costner leveraged his own $50 million mortgage on his 10-acre Santa Barbara compound to finance the film. (Tommaso Boddi/Getty Images)

In addition to starring in the feature film, Costner also directed "Horizon" based on a script he co-wrote with John Baird. The film came with a hefty price tag, though, and set Costner back more than $20 million in out-of-pocket expenses, which came to light in court documents after his ex-wife, Christine Baumgartner, filed for divorce in May after 18 years of marriage.

"His timing, tone, and assembled talent couldn't be better. Prepare for a massive hit."

Baumgartner's legal team explained how Costner expected to receive a "waterfall" of funds from "Horizon" after his initial investments, according to documents obtained by Fox News Digital.


"Kevin's total compensation for acting, producing, and directing in Horizon 1 is approximately $12,000,000, and for Horizon 2 is approximately $12,000,000, most of which he voluntarily deferred," docs stated. "Kevin estimates that this money will ‘waterfall’ back to him starting in late next year. Kevin also has a profit participation in Horizon 1 and 2, which is yet another source of income."

Costner mortgaged his $50 million oceanfront Santa Barbara property to ensure proper funding for the project, Deadline reported. "I’ve mortgaged 10 acres on the water in Santa Barbara where I was going to build my last house," he said. "But I did it without a thought. It has thrown my accountant into a f---ing conniption fit. But it’s my life, and I believe in the idea and the story."

Brand expert Eric Schiffer exclusively told Fox News Digital that Hollywood has valid concerns that Costner's 30-year epic may not pay back the millions he's personally invested in the project. "He could face some soul-crushing pain, having invested tens of millions of dollars… mortgaging his home and taking a risk that, you know, this kind of brings back memories of ‘Waterworld.’"

"This is a treacherous time for him because he's doing what many in Hollywood would say is insanity, which is to release a second movie or two movies," Schiffer explained. "This happens in television and in streaming, but on the theater side, you're asking people at a time where they don't typically… where they're accustomed to seeing entertainment on demand and then drive to a theater."

Kevin Costner wears white suit to Oscars after party with Christine Baumgartner

Christine Baumgartner filed for divorce from Kevin Costner in May after 18 years of marriage. (Getty Images)

Kevin Costner film studio mock up with drawings of buildings for production offices

Kevin Costner's new Territory Film Studios in St. George, Utah, will have a restaurant and catering department. (Greater Zion Tourism Office)

The first movie in the four-part saga was in post-production in August, a "critical" time for putting things together, Costner said while testifying in his divorce case. 

"I'm here," Costner emphasized while on the stand during a custody dispute with Christine.

Costner and Christine share three children, Cayden, 16, Grace, 13, and Hayes, 15, who makes his acting debut in "Horizon."

Their divorce was finalized in February, and rumors began swirling earlier this year that the "Field of Dreams" star sparked a romantic connection with singer Jewel after they were spotted together on Richard Branson's Necker Island.


Having so much financial responsibility for "Horizon" was "not the smartest thing," Costner admitted during the "Horizon" trailer reveal. "But I count on people. I count on the movie speaking louder than anything I can say. And so, with that in mind, I just shoved West myself and I just left, and I went out to make this movie in Utah."

The "Tin Cup" actor was so impressed with the Utah landscape while filming "Horizon" that he decided to put down roots in St. George and build a state-of-the art film studio.

St. George Mayor Michele Randall confirmed with Fox News Digital that Territory Film Studios is hoping to "break ground in the spring or summer," depending on permitting processes.

Kevin Costner smiles wearing tan suit and white shirt

Costner admitted that making "Horizon" was his "biggest struggle." (Richard Bord/Getty Images)

While it seems like a major risk for Costner to fund "Horizon" himself, this isn't the first time he's done so.

Costner put up his own money to fund the 1990 movie "Dances with Wolves," "The Postman" in 1997 and "Black or White" in 2014. Out of the three projects, "Dances with Wolves" was the most critically acclaimed, earning Costner two Academy Awards for best director and best picture and a nomination for best actor in a leading role.

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