Horizon actor Michael Rooker blames poor box office on ‘TikTokified’ audiences unused to ‘real cinema’

Horizon: An American Saga - Chapter 1 actor Michael Rooker has hit out at audiences following the poor box office performance of Kevin Costner’s Western epic, saying they’re not used to “real cinema.”

Rooker, 69, plays Sergeant Major Riordan in the new film. He is best known for his appearances as Merle Dixon in The Walking Dead and as Yondu Udonta in the Guardians of the Galaxy franchise.

While being interviewed by TMZ at Los Angeles International Airpor, Rooker was asked about Horizon’s sluggish performance at the box office last weekend, where it recouped just $11m against its $100m budget.

“It’s real cinema folks, so be prepared,” Rooker said. “We ain’t used to that s***, you know? We’re used to 90-minute movies. Everything’s 90 minutes… Oh come on, give me a break… Get over that s***. Let’s watch a movie that actually tells a story, where you learn about the people and grow to like them, or hate them. It’s not all fast cut, cut, cut.”

Asked whether contemporary audiences have lost their attention spans as they’ve become “TikTokified,” Rooker replied: “Totally, they are yeah. Of course they are. They’ve gotta get over that c***. Come on. They gotta learn what it’s like to watch real cinema.”

Rooker added that Costner is “brilliant in this, he is a brilliant director.” With a nod to the film’s three-hour runtime, Rooker advised: “Stop hanging, go see the movie. You’ll enjoy it. Go to the bathroom before you go in.”

Michael Rooker plays Sergeant Major Riordan ‘Horizon: An American Saga - Chapter 1’ (Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)
Michael Rooker plays Sergeant Major Riordan ‘Horizon: An American Saga - Chapter 1’ (Frazer Harrison/Getty Images)

Horizon, which Costner directed, co-wrote and stars in, is set to be a four-part Western drama spanning 15 years amid the American Civil War.

The film also stars Sienna Miller, Jamie Campbell Bower, Ella Hunt and Sam Worthington.

Speaking to the press after a premiere screening, Costner revealed he mortgaged one of his four properties in order to fund the movie. The Yellowstone alum said he’s on track to spend $98m of his own money on the first three movies, and that by the time he’s done with the fourth he will have spent more than $100m.

Critics have branded the film as the “dullest cinematic vanity project”. In a two-star review for The Independent, Geoffrey McNab wrote: “The first chapter in Kevin Costner’s four or possibly even five-part cowboy epic is the movie equivalent of a three-hour ride around a western theme park. If you’re a fan of Stetsons, stirrups and six-shooters – and if you have plenty of patience – you may enjoy the experience. But there’s a hell of a lot of waiting around before you get properly in the saddle.”