Stephen King Isn’t Happy About The Reaction To Horizon’s Box Office

 Kevin Costner aims a gun in Horizon: An American Saga - Chapter 1 .
Credit: Warner Bros.

Welcome to July, Stephen King fans! Historically, this month hasn’t seen the release of many new King projects, but there are two anniversaries to celebrate to kick off this week’s edition of The King Beat. Yesterday was the 45th anniversary of The Long Walk – which was King’s second novel published with his Richard Bachman pseudonym and is a powerful and devastating dystopian tale and is soon being adapted as an upcoming King movie. It was also approximately 42 years ago that the first Creepshow comic was released in advance of what’s remembered as one of the best King films of all time.

But there isn’t time to only focus on anniversaries; there are other stories to discuss from the world of Stephen King this week, including the author’s thoughts on two films that are presently playing in a theater near you. This week’s column includes King’s opinion on A Quiet Place: Day One, new 4K UHD news for physical media collectors, and a perfectly appropriate Recommendation Of The Week, but first, let’s dig into his thoughts on the public discourse surrounding Horizon: An American Saga – Chapter 1.

Sienna Miller and Sam Worthington stand facing each other in front of a tree in Horizon: An American Saga - Chapter 1.
Sienna Miller and Sam Worthington stand facing each other in front of a tree in Horizon: An American Saga - Chapter 1.

Stephen King Labels Reaction To Horizon: An American Saga Part 1 Box Office Results As “Schadenfreude”

Last year, Stephen King publicly expressed disappointment about movie-goer reactions to the theatrical performance of director Nia DaCosta’s The Marvels. The author noted that he is not personally a fan of the Marvel Cinematic Universe or superhero blockbusters, he didn’t appreciate people expressing delight in the film’s underwhelming box office performance. He wondered why anyone would “gloat over failure,” and he expressed a similar sentiment this week regarding the opening weekend numbers for Kevin Costner’s Horizon: An American Saga - Chapter 1.

The first movie in what is planned as a four-part epic, Horizon didn’t put up much of a fight against hit sequels Inside Out 2 and A Quiet Place: Day One in its box office opening weekend, and it only barely beat out Bad Boys: Ride Or Die for third place in the domestic Top 10. The $11 million in earnings has been mocked by some on social media and some news outlets in light of Kevin Costner’s ambitious vision for the project, and Stephen King used a word that only exists in German to describe the commentary on Twitter. King wrote,

Schadenfreude is “taking pleasure in another’s misfortune.” It perfectly describes many reactions I’ve read to Costner’s HORIZON. Why in God’s name would anyone luxuriate in the failure of a film that isn’t a sequel or part of the, God save us, “Marvel universe?”

Putting that shot at the Marvel Cinematic Universe aside, Stephen King highlights an important point. If the movie-going public mocks risky original projects and exclusively pays attention to sequels and blockbusters, the industry is going to only make sequels and blockbusters. Diversity is important in the box office ecology, and scope has been getting narrower and narrower in the 21st century.

Following the disappointing start at the box office, future plans for Horizon: An American Saga haven’t publicly changed. The first sequel, Horizon: An American Saga - Chapter 2, has already been completed and is set to hit the big screen in wide release on August 16. Release dates for the third and fourth parts have not yet been announced, though the former started production in May (per The Hollywood Reporter). The reactions to the film have been extremely mixed, with some critics, like CinemaBlend’s Mike Reyes, calling it an “all-out cinematic experience," and others calling it a disjointed mess.

We’ll have to wait and see if the three-hour ensemble-led western will get a box office bump from the Independence Day holiday this week and show some legs as we get deeper into the summer (stay tuned for my box office column this Sunday).

Lupita Nyong'o looking at a clerk with a straight face in A Quiet Place: Day One.
Lupita Nyong'o looking at a clerk with a straight face in A Quiet Place: Day One.

Stephen King Is A Big Fan Of A Quiet Place: Day One

Horizon: An American Saga – Chapter 1 isn’t the only movie that debuted on the big screen this past weekend that Stephen King has thoughts about. While it’s unclear if the author personally went to see Kevin Costner’s latest western, but he did go to see Hollywood’s latest studio horror release, and he apparently left the theater impressed.

Stephen King posted on social media on Sunday that he went to go see director Michael Sarnoski’s A Quiet Place: Day One, and he was taken aback by the scale of the setting and the intimacy of the story. The prequel to John Krasinski’s A Quiet Place and A Quiet Place: Part II is set in Manhattan on the day of an alien invasion, but the principal character arc involves a woman dying from cancer (Lupita Nyong’o) who simply wants to get a slice of pizza at her favorite restaurant in Harlem. King wrote,

A QUIET PLACE DAY 1: The rare "big Hollywood film" that is both intimate and textured. (And the cat steals the show.)

I can’t say that I personally agree with King’s take here (as expressed in my Quiet Place: Day One CinemaBlend review, I don’t think it did nearly enough to differentiate itself from its franchise predecessors), but his views do line up with the majority consensus among critics, with others expressing a more significant appreciation for the horror of the sound-sensitive extraterrestrials and the bond between Lupita Nyong’o’s character and a stranger (Joseph Quinn) she meets mid-apocalypse.

While having the best opening weekend yet for a movie in the Quiet Place series, the film opened behind the blockbusters goliath that is Inside Out 2, which is currently dominating the box office. The horror prequel is now playing in theaters everywhere.

Brad Dourif in Graveyard Shift
Brad Dourif in Graveyard Shift

Graveyard Shift Coming To 4K UHD From Kino Lorber

It’s been a minute since physical media collectors have been able to add a new upgrade to the movie/TV sections of their Ultimate Stephen King collection. Scream Factory released the first Blu-ray edition of The Shining miniseries back in March, and all has been quiet in the months since then. Thankfully, that drought ended this week thanks to the folks at Kino Lorber. The boutique home video company has revealed upcoming plans to make the first 4K UHD for director Ralph S. Singleton’s Graveyard Shift.

The best version of the 1990 horror film is presently the Blu-ray that Scream Factory produced in July 2020, but that package is now out of print, and Kino Lorber has promised an upgrade. While special features have not been revealed, the movie itself is a new HDR/DV Master that has been created from a 4K scan of the original camera negative.

Kino Lorber already has a well-established positive reputation among Stephen King fans, as Graveyard Shift will be the fourth King adaptation that the company has brought to 4K UHD. They have also released excellent versions of Rob Reiner’s Misery, Fraser Clarke Heston's Needful Things, and Lewis Teague’s Cujo. In each case, the movie has never looked better on home video.

To be perfectly honest, I’m not a big Graveyard Shift fan. As much as I appreciate Brad Dourif’s The Exterminator and the practical monster effects at the end, the film is among titles in the legacy of Stephen King adaptations that I describe as Kingsploitation. It doesn’t do an effective job expanding the short story on which it’s based, and is stocked exclusively with brutish, unlikable characters.

All that being said, I’m planning on putting in a pre-order to Kino Lorber for the 4K UHD at the first opportunity to do so.

Drunken Fireworks cover audiobook
Drunken Fireworks cover audiobook

Recommendation Of The Week: "Drunken Fireworks"

In the last month or so, I’ve used this Recommendation Of The Week section to highlight the great stories featured in You Like It Darker, but I’m breaking from that pattern this week in light of the fact that this column is being published on Independence Day. That’s not going to happen again for another few years, so I’m jumping on this opportunity to suggest you all take a moment today to read the humorous “Drunken Fireworks” – a perfect short story for the holiday.

“Drunken Fireworks” was initially released exclusively as an audiobook narrated by Tim Sample in the summer of 2015, but it was included in the collection The Bazaar Of Bad Dreams later that same year. Similar to Dolores Claiborne, the setup involves a protagonist at a police station giving their account of felonious events and explaining their side of the story. In this tale, a blue-collar Yankee named Alden McCausland recounts how he and his wife got into a conflict with the Massimos – the family that lives across the lake from their summer home. Every year, the McCauslands try and put on spectacular fireworks show for the community, but the Massimos always upstage them. Alden nonetheless keeps trying to outdo them… but escalation mixed with excessive alcohol consumption results in disaster.

We have now come to the end of this week’s edition of The King Beat, but I’ll be back next Thursday with a fresh collection of news stories from the world of Stephen King. In the meantime, you can keep track of all King-related projects for both the big and small screens with our Upcoming Stephen King Movies and TV guide.