Miley twerked, execs lost work and Netflix became Hollywood frenemy No. 1 as THR ranks the business moves that moved dollars -- and made drama -- in the industry's increasingly rapid blink-and-you-miss-it evolution.
When Kevin Tsujihara was named Warner Bros. CEO on Jan. 28, little did he know he would kick off a year of volatility among top studio executives. Warner Bros.' passed-over film chief Jeff Robinov and TV head Bruce Rosenblum soon exited. Universal followed by axing film chairman Adam Fogelson and Focus Features CEO James Schamus. DreamWorks Animation, Fox and Sony lost their marketing chiefs, and the latter committed to slashing $250 million, suggesting 2014 could be even bloodier.
No. 2: 'House of Cards' Ushers TV Online
There had been plenty of web-only series, of course. But when historians attempt to pinpoint exactly when watching serialized content online went mainstream, they will identify the Feb. 1, 2013, debut of Netflix's $100 million political drama from David Fincher, which further trailblazed with nine Emmy nominations.
No. 3: 'Grand Theft Auto V' Grosses More Than $1 Billion in 3 Days
Take that, Iron Man! The smash-and-grab video game crossed the celebrated milestone at a rate faste than any other game, film, television show or other entertainment product, its publisher Take-Two Interactive announced in September. GTA5 racked up a staggering $800 million in first-day sales alone, signaling the expanding influence of both video games and proven franchises in the new entertainment ecosystem.
No. 4: 'Under the Dome' Debuts on CBS (and, 4 Days Later, on Amazon)
Thanks to a groundbreaking financing deal, the pricey Stephen King drama Under the Dome premiered on CBS on June 24 -- smack in the middle of the summer broadcast network wasteland -- with episodes streaming on Amazon four days later. The move provided a template for bringing year-round quality scripted programming to broadcast, one CBS will duplicate next summer with Halle Berry's Extant.
No. 5: News Corp. Splits in Two
It took a hacking scandal at News of the World to help persuade Rupert Murdoch to separate his challenged newspapers from his film studio, broadcast network and cable assets. On July 1, the first trading day after the conglom split into News Corp and 21st Century Fox, the former's shares lost 5 percent and the latter's gained 2 percent -- a possible preview of both businesses' futures.
No. 6: Twitter Goes Public
Remember when Ashton Kutcher made news for having 1 million followers? Katy Perry now has 48.6 million. And on Nov. 7, the social media company with 230 million monthly users took perhaps its most meaningful step toward sustained growth and world domination: an IPO. Twitter raised $1.2 billion and (unlike Facebook) its stock's opening price was 73 percent higher than its initial offer, giving the so-far-unprofitable company a $31 billion market cap.
No. 7: 'Breaking Bad' Gets a Big Boost From Netflix
When Breaking Bad's final run of eight episodes premiered in August to 5.9 million viewers -- more than double its previous season premiere -- it was Netflix, not AMC, that took the bigger bow. Clearly, the decision to put previous seasons of the serialized drama on the streamer had brought new viewers to the saga of Walter White. In the process, Netflix proved that not only does it provide a new revenue stream for series, it can help boost the traditional ad-supported TV model, too.
No. 8: 'The Sound of Music Live!' Teaches NBC a New Trick
Critics were mean. Social media was meaner. And even the original von Trapp kids voiced their disapproval. But NBC's Dec. 5 live staging of The Sound of Music delivered where it counts -- with 18.6 million viewers. In the process, the network proved live musicals can be DVR-proof "events" like sports and awards shows. The hunt for next year's similar production already is underway.
No. 9: CBS Pounds Time Warner Cable
In August, Time Warner Cable blocked out CBS and Showtime in New York, Los Angeles and other cities for a month as carriage-fee talks dragged on. When the dust finally settled, it was clear where the power lies: TWC conceded to CBS on key points before the NFL season began and ended up losing more than 300,000 subscribers in the quarter. Cable and satellite providers won't forget that in future negotiations.
No. 10: Brett Ratner Comes Up Big Down Under
Is there a more improbable Hollywood mogul than Brett Ratner? The Rush Hour director pulled off a reinvention when his RatPac Entertainment, funded by Australian billionaire James Packer, teamed with Wall Street financier Steven Mnuchin to pour as much as $400 million into Warner Bros. films. Ratner and Packer followed that deal with another coup: backing Brad Pitt's Plan B company as it moves from Paramount to New Regency in 2014.
No. 11: Beyonce Hones the Art of the Album Stunt
Yes, the singer broke iTunes records when her secretly recorded album, released without warning Dec. 12, sold 828,000 downloads in three days. But album stunts weren't limited to pop acts in 2013. David Bowie released his first studio effort in 10 years with no warning, as did U.K. noise-rockers My Bloody Valentine. (THR.com headline: "Band Crashes Internet.") The strategy shows how direct the relationship has become between popular acts and their fans.
No. 12: Mike Darnell's Reign and a Reality Era End
Yes, American Idol finale ratings were down 40 percent from 2012. But the June exit of Darnell from Fox's reality division after 18 years signaled more than just the need for a fresh take on TV's once-dominant show. Darnell's brand of boundary-pushing, stunt-driven experiments (Joe Millionaire, Temptation Island) has given way to a landscape filled with docusoaps (Duck Dynasty), desperately seeking the next big format.
No. 13: Miley Cyrus Twerks Up the Charts
Cyrus started with the hip-hop-flavored track "We Can't Stop" (and its doll-licking, ass-slapping, barely SFW video), then reached the pop-culture climax during an uber-racy performance of "Blurred Lines" at the MTV Video Music Awards with Robin Thicke. And it worked. Her follow-up single, "Wrecking Ball," topped the Billboard Hot 100, fueling a gold plaque for her album Bangerz and a spot on critics' year-end best lists. Proof that in 2013, attention was the most powerful commodity.
With his late-entry contender, the legend may pull off another 'Million Dollar Baby,' but he's got some work to do: "This lefty crowd isn't going to gather around a Navy SEAL best known for killing people," says a rival campaigner Read More