33 Defining Hollywood Moments of the Past 5 Years

7:00 AM 11/18/2015

by THR staff

From 2010 to 2015, the life span of The Hollywood Reporter, Netflix increased its programming budget from $31 million to $5 billion, Comcast purchased NBCUniversal, Steve Jobs died, Facebook paid $1 billion for Instagram and Relativity filed for bankruptcy.

Trump Runs for President  - H 2015
AFP/Getty Images

Along with these 33 moments, the last five years also saw an executive shuffle at major film studios and changes to Hollywood safety regulations following the Midnight Rider tragedy.

Written by Matthew Belloni, Paul Bond, Eriq Gardner, Marisa Guthrie, Lacey Rose and Austin Siegemund-Broka

  1. 1

    Comcast Buys NBCUniversal

    Hollywood synergy hits its peak when a $31.5 billion deal combines the NBC broadcast and cable networks and the Universal movie studio and theme parks with America’s largest cable and broadband provider. After five years of executive upheaval at nearly all of its units (not to mention a savage parody of “Kabletown” on NBC’s 30 Rock), NBC is the No. 1 broadcast net, the cable nets are projected to generate $2.8 billion in 2015 profit, and Universal is having a record year at the box office. But the jury’s still out on the long-term wisdom. “They got NBCU for a good price,” says analyst Craig Moffett. “But it’s still not clear that there has been any real strategic synergy benefit out of owning both content and distribution under the same umbrella.”

  2. 2

    'Mad Men's' Contract Standoff Ends, Era of the Power Showrunner Begins

    Credit the protracted negotiations among Matthew Weiner, studio Lionsgate and network AMC (and a $10 million-a-year deal) for signaling the new influence of the showrunner. Weiner’s not alone: Vince Gilligan, Ryan Murphy and Shonda Rhimes all have amassed followings as large and passionate as their stars’. “If you asked kids coming out of college five years ago what they wanted to do, they’d say they want to be in the movie business,” notes ICM Partners president Chris Silbermann, who counts Gilligan and Rhimes as clients. “Now, you probably see more who want to be in TV.”

  3. 3

    'Bridesmaids' Grosses $288.4 Million Worldwide

    By Paul Feig

    We were in production when I found out the whole town was focused on how this movie was going to do. A couple of female writer friends of mine were pitching their own female-led comedy at the time, and they were told by executives at studios, ‘We can’t make any deals for movies like this because we have to see how Bridesmaids does.’ That was the chilling moment because you go: ‘Oh shit. All this pressure is going to be put on this one movie?’ When it was coming out, we’d been told we had to make $20 million opening weekend or else we were going to be considered a failure. The week running up to it, tracking was not good.

    [Opening] night, Melissa McCarthy and her husband, Ben Falcone, came over for dinner, and that was when I heard it was looking like $20, $22 million. By the time it got to $26 million, we jumped into the car and went to the ArcLight. The theater was packed, and it was rocking. The hope was that Bridesmaids would make everyone go, ‘OK, great. Now it’s no longer an issue.’ But that wasn’t the case. There wasn’t a flood of projects starring women — just a few came up. The Heat felt like a giant test, and then again with Spy, I was trying to break into male-dominated territory. There is still a lot of pressure because everyone can still say, ‘Well, it would have done better if it wasn’t women.’ We still have to break that down, not only in our country but in other countries. Ghostbusters will be a giant test for that. It’s a giant tentpole hung on four very funny actresses. Honestly, I feel more pressure on this than any of the others. So, it never ends. There’s still a long way to go.


  4. 4

    'The Oprah Winfrey Show' Ends

    The Queen of Daytime’s transition to OWN brings an end to an age of launching personality-driven talkers. Only Steve Harvey has debuted a hit show since.

  5. 5

    Steve Jobs Dies

    Many predict Apple will atrophy without its visionary co-founder. Instead, under CEO Tim Cook, its stock skyrockets 127 percent since that day.

  6. 6

    YouTube Reveals a $100 Million Slate of New Channels

    Everyone from Pharrell Williams to the WWE gets a dedicated vertical in the Google-owned video site’s first major bid for premium content. By most accounts, the initiative fails, and exactly four years later, YouTube Red, the $10-a-month, commercial-free subscription service for video and music (with some originals), launches to similar fanfare.

  7. 7

    Kim Kardashian Files for Divorce From Kris Humphries

    Months later, she begins dating Kanye West (whom she’ll marry in 2014), providing fodder for hit reality shows, late-night comics, seemingly thousands of magazine covers and endless family extensions.

  8. 8

    Random House Buys 'Fifty Shades of Grey'

    What started as Twilight fan-fiction becomes a worldwide phenomenon with more than 125 million books sold and an R-rated movie franchise.

  9. 9

    'John Carter' Bombs Big

    Disney takes a $200 million write-down on this sci-fi head-scratcher, which is joined in the flop bin by Warner Bros.’ Dark Shadows (May 11) and Universal’s Battleship (May 18). In response, studios step up their risk-aversion and lean more heavily on sequels, shared universes and prebranded blockbusters.

  10. 10

    'The Hunger Games' Opens to $152.5 Million

    Hollywood learns that a female-fronted action franchise can debut just as big as those comic book movies. And in the process, Jennifer Lawrence, unknown a year earlier, becomes a superstar.

  11. 11

    Facebook Pays $1 Billion for Instagram

    Mark Zuckerberg signals a new tech boom with this purchase, which contributes to sky-high valuations for Snapchat, Vice and other digital media firms

  12. 12

    'Good Morning America' Beats 'Today' By 13,000 Viewers

    The morning news battle becomes an all-out war as NBC's 16-year winning streak ends. Blame a messy transition from anchor Ann Curry to Savannah Guthrie and ABC's tweaked format that is faster paced, multi-anchor-focused and more tabloid. "It was just a truly cathartic moment," says James Goldston, president of ABC News. "And it was a validation of our approach to the craft of making morning television."

  13. 13

    'The Avengers'' $207.4 Million Bow Shows "Universes" Are the New Sequels

    The $1.52 billion worldwide gross of Marvel Studios' team-up jump-starts Hollywood's infatuation with "shared-universe" movies. Warner Bros. soon follows (with a DC hero slate scheduled through 2020), as do Paramount (Transformers), Universal (monsters) and Disney's Lucasfilm (Star Wars).

  14. 14

    'South Park' Kicks Ass in Court Over "What What (In the Butt)"

    Influential legal opinions can emerge from strange places. Even the derriere. A 2008 episode of the Comedy Central stalwart titled "Canada on Strike" — satirizing the WGA work stoppage — features the Butters character doing his own version of Samwell's silly viral video "What What (In the Butt)" to accrue enough "Internet money" to buy off striking Canucks. A federal judge decides this is fair use, a "transformative" sendup of web culture. On appeal, the owner of the "WWITB" video argues that when ruling on early motions to dismiss, judges are limited in what evidence they can consider — and that they can't address fair use.

    But in an opinion that soon is adopted by other appellate courts, 7th Circuit Court of Appeals Judge Richard Cudahy holds otherwise. Since then, Brownmark Films v. Comedy Partners became a useful tool for entertainment and media companies to get a quick dismissal of copyright cases. Alonzo Wickers, one of the winning attorneys (and occasional THR lawyer), says the case made it "much more likely that networks, production companies and their insurers will give people greater freedom to rely on fair use."

  15. 15

    Disney Acquires Lucasfilm

    The Force is with CEO Robert Iger, who pays $4 billion and persuades Kathleen Kennedy to run George Lucas' company and turn Star Wars into a likely movie-a-year cash cow across all Disney divisions.

  16. 16

    Megyn Kelly Stands Up to Karl Rove on Election Night

    In a move that would foreshadow her ascension at Fox News, Kelly calls the election for Barack Obama despite Rove's on-air assertion to the contrary — and she even walks over to the number-crunchers to prove him wrong. Notes news analyst Andrew Tyndall, "Without the walk, she would not have been put on center stage to confront Donald Trump in the August debate."

  17. 17

    Netflix Premieres 'House of Cards'

    There was a time that "television" referred to over-the-air or cable networks and "binge" meant eating or drinking too much. Then Netflix's Ted Sarandos pays $100 million for two seasons of a David Fincher-produced political drama and puts the first 13 episodes online all at once. "In the back of my head, it was, 'I don't know why they would do it with us,' " recalls Sarandos of the negotiations that would fundamentally alter the TV business and lead to digital competitors in Hulu, Amazon and even HBO and CBS. The two-season commitment was the clincher: "But I still wondered why they did it."

  18. 18

    Rob Thomas Launches a Kickstarter Campaign for 'Veronica Mars'

    Crowdfunding meets studio economics as the filmmakers raise $5.7 million from more than 90,000 donors, winning a green light from Warner Bros.

  19. 19

    Jay Leno Welcomes Jimmy Fallon

    Before Colbert replaced Letterman, Wilmore took Colbert's job, Corden got Ferguson's time slot and Noah ascended to the Stewart throne, NBC pulled off perhaps the biggest coup ever in late night. Four years after a botched transition from Leno to Conan O'Brien on The Tonight Show, Fallon not only takes over the venerable show from a willing and genial Leno, he has since grown its audience, often doubling his competitors in the ratings.

    Late-night chronicler and THR contributor Bill Carter says the shift "qualifies as something of a masterpiece in the difficult art of maneuvering talent on, and especially off, the stage." How? "Partly it was the luck of timing," says Carter. "Jay was more ready to abdicate as he hit his mid-60s, an opportunity Conan never enjoyed; partly it was the involvement of some different executives as well as the deft machinations of Lorne Michaels in the background. But the result is continued dominance without the accompanying dissonance."

  20. 20

    Mike Darnell Gets the Boot at Fox

    The exit of reality TV's evil genius responsible for Temptation Island and Joe Millionaire signals the end of the shock era. The X Factor's failure that fall marks similar hard times for competition shows.

  21. 21

    News Corp. Splits in Two

    Whether or not Rupert Murdoch's move is in response to the hacking scandal at his U.K. newspapers, the creation of 21st Century Fox ensures the film and TV assets will be protected from News' declining print properties. Notes Derek Blaine of SNL Kagan, "Some investors feared that Murdoch would go on a print buying binge prior to the split, so this must have been quite a relief."

  22. 22

    A&E Suspends 'Duck Dynasty's' Phil Robertson

    The top show on cable temporarily loses its star after GQ publishes his anti-gay comments (he is reinstated after a fan outcry), and ratings for the show — and the entire genre — never recover.

  23. 23

    WME Buys IMG

    CAA sold a majority stake to TPG Growth. ICM became ICM Partners. Jeff Berg launched and folded Resolution. And UTA pulled off a midnight raid of a dozen CAA comedy agents. But no talent agency move has altered the business more than WME and owner Silver Lake Capital's bold (and debt-financed) $2.3 billion deal for the sports and fashion powerhouse.

  24. 24

    Hannibal Buress Calls Bill Cosby a "Rapist" on a Philadelphia Stage

    "Thirteen?! And it's even worse because Bill Cosby has the f—ing smuggest old-black-man public persona that I hate. 'Pull your pants up, black people. I was on TV in the '80s. I can talk down to you because I had a successful sitcom.' Yeah, but you raped women, Bill Cosby. So, brings you down a couple notches. 'I don't curse onstage.' Well, yeah, you're a rapist, so, I'll take you sayin' lots of motherfers on "Bill Cosby: Himself" if you weren't a rapist. … If you didn't know about it, trust me. You leave here, and Google 'Bill Cosby rape.' It's not funny."

  25. 25

    Sony Reveals a Hack

    Of all the fallout from the largest corporate security breach in U.S. history — the embarrassing emails, the privacy violations, the canceled (then reinstated) release of The Interview and the exit of co-chair Amy Pascal — perhaps the most lasting impact will come from the reveal that Jennifer Lawrence was paid less for American Hustle than her male co-stars. The movement toward equal pay and more oppor­tunities for women in Hollywood picks up key momentum with the hack and in Patricia Arquette's Oscar speech three months later.

  26. 26

    'Empire' Premieres on Fox

    A black soap opera dominates primetime, showing Hollywood that diversity makes financial sense.

  27. 27


    Zero nonwhite acting noms prompts a web meme, and Academy president Cheryl Boone Isaacs launches A2020, an initiative to diversify the group and the industry.

  28. 28

    NBC Suspends Brian Williams

    The moral: Lying on-camera doesn't get an anchor fired now, it just gets him reassigned to MSNBC.

  29. 29

    HBO Launches HBO Now

    In its battle with Netflix, the premium cable network becomes available without a cable subscription, fundamentally altering the TV ecosystem.

  30. 30

    Trump Runs for President

    Reality TV finally gets a Ronald Reagan (he hopes).

  31. 31

    Supremes Back Gay Marriage

    With Hollywood's help, a 5-4 vote of the high court legalizes same-sex unions nationwide.

  32. 32

    Rupert Murdoch Turns 21st Century Fox Over to His Sons

    A media mega mogul sets his legacy.

  33. 33

    Relativity Files for Bankruptcy

    A studio goes belly up. Will film investors be wary of future deals? History suggests no.