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How 2023 Changed the Entertainment Industry

How+2023+Changed+the+Entertainment+Industry

Just when we thought the industry could not be more inspiring, tumultuous, creative, and all-around momentous in 2022, with the return of big-budget cinema, stadium tours, and more, 2023 proved that the entertainment industry we all know and love still has more up its sleeve. From record-breaking music to the SAG-AFTRA strike halting anticipated productions, this year was definitely one we won’t forget. 

Grace’s Music Review:

2023 has been a polarizing year for the music industry, to say the least. Ever-growing advancements within the realm of A.I. have been a hot-button topic for years, but this year, new technology has shaken up the mainstream music industry. Within the past few months, A.I. has been used to enhance and refine unreleased tracks from major artists, as well as compose entirely new songs in the style of specific musicians and songwriters. On the other hand, many musicians have been critical of A.I.’s capabilities, as the software’s algorithm (which is trained using previously recorded material) can be a copyright nightmare. That being said, who would have guessed that we would have a new Beatles song released over 50 years after they disbanded?

On an optimistic note, audiences showed up and out for their favorite female artists this year. Of course, there is no discussion about the music industry without mentioning Taylor Swift, the woman whose retrospective “Eras Tour” is set to play over 150 shows around the world. With more than 40 songs performed in each show, “The Eras Tour” became the highest-grossing tour of all time, and with it came small economic booms in each city that Swift graced with her presence. Trailing close behind was Beyonce’s “Renaissance Tour”, which grossed $579 million with stops in 12 countries. The dedication of the artists’ respective fans brought these tours to another level, as audiences showed up in silver, sparkles, and sleeves of friendship bracelets.

This year also gave up-and-coming female artists their chance to shine. Ice Spice appeared on the scene (seemingly out of nowhere), collaborating with artists such as Swift and Nicki Minaj. The 23-year-old rapper, who won the Best New Artist title at the 2023 MTV VMAs, rose to fame earlier this year with her hit song, “Munch (Feelin’ U)”. Similarly, indie rock group Boygenius gained mainstream success after releasing their debut studio album, “The Record”. The supergroup, made up of singer-songwriters Phoebe Bridgers, Lucy Dacus, and Julien Baker, received six Grammy nominations for the release, including an Album of the Year nod. 

Like last year, social media has acted as a launch pad for these fresh-faced musicians, with artists like Renee Rapp, Tate McRae, and others gaining international recognition through trending sounds online. TikTok unveiled its first official Song of the Summer list, a grouping compiled of the top ten most popular songs used to create music-based content on the platform. K-Pop girl group NewJeans topped Korea’s list with their single “Super Shy” – an effort which was no doubt propelled by the song’s accompanying dance – while Mae Stephens topped the global chart with her hit, “If We Ever Broke Up”.

Last year, Bad Bunny’s “Un Verano Sin Ti” became the first release recorded entirely in Spanish to receive an Album of the Year nomination. Following the Puerto Rican singer’s success, an uprising of global artist collaborations has taken effect. “Calm Down”, a release from Selena Gomez and Nigerian rapper Rema overtook the airwaves this year, and snagged the Best Afrobeats Song award at the Billboard Music Awards soon after. Other international artists like Peso Pluma and KAROL G accepted top awards at the show, with the latter surpassing 7 billion streams on Spotify this year.

Despite advancing technology being at the forefront of many conversations, 2023 was still an incredible year for musicians, big and small. On-the-rise artists have claimed international fame, while some of the industry’s biggest stars broke barriers once deemed impossible. With new achievements continuously being surpassed and developed, it will be fascinating to see where the music industry will end up in 2024.

Ryan’s Movies Review:

2023 was full of some extreme highs and frightening lows for the movie industry. From unlikely movie pairings to unwavering strikes, this past year was certainly a turning point for the cinematic experience. 

It’s been long documented that audiences have been foregoing the theater experience, electing to stream movies at home rather than make the trip to a local cinema. But then came two films that demanded to be watched on the big screen, which formulated cult followings and created a movement. “Oppenheimer” and “Barbie” released on the same day (July 23), better known as “Barbenheimer,” transcended cinema and became an unforgettable cultural phenomenon. As people partook in double-screenings or dressed up in pink outfits or old-fashioned suits, “Barbenheimer” felt like a celebration of cinema, and a reminder as to just how culturally impactful movies can be. And the films themselves, for the most part, delivered on these promises. 

I’d argue that “Oppenheimer” is the best film of the decade so far. A chilling, endlessly thought-provoking, existential, and Shakespearean drama about a man gaining the power to destroy the world and the moral implications of that possibility. “Barbie” crafted a world of its own, from its stunning art design to its keen sense of humor and commentary. The film resonated with people on such personal levels; telling a heartfelt story that connected with women, men, and the world alike. 

But of course, there was far more to this year than just “Barbenheimer.” “Mission Impossible: Dead Reckoning” was another epic installment in the long-running franchise. There were also fantastic outings for storied directors like Martin Scorsese, David Fincher, and Ridley Scott with “Killers of The Flower Moon,” “The Killer,” and “Napoleon,” alongside a pleasant surprise like Alexander Payne’s “The Holdovers,” which has become one of my favorite holiday films. And another pleasant surprise in Gareth Edward’s original sci-fi blockbuster “The Creator.” Not to mention “John Wick 4,” which is up there with some of the best action films ever made, and “Spider-Man: Across The Spider-Verse,” which is arguably one of the best animated and comic book films ever made. 

However, we wouldn’t have all of these incredible films without the people working behind and in front of the cameras, who made their voices heard through the SAG-AFTRA strikes that captivated the masses throughout the better part of this summer and fall; which sparked loads of conversations regarding the proper compensation and work integrity for everyone involved. 

Movies will never quite be the same after 2023, which might just be a good thing. The industry appears to be stepping away from long, convoluted franchises and instead opting for the visions of auteur filmmakers to take center stage. If the industry keeps this momentum going, who knows what we’re going to see in 2024.   

Liz’s Television review: 

This year, audiences have been disappointed by the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (commonly known as the AMPTP). On May 2, the Writer’s Guild of America went on strike after compensation concerns and alarming changes in the entertainment industry arose due to streaming. As series budgets have soared in the past decade, the annual salary for writers has still remained stagnant. Another concern for writers was the increased power of A.I. Artificial intelligence has gained considerable strength and popularity and has no place in the entertainment industry, threatening the human form of creative expression. The Screen Actors Guild also went on strike for similar reasons on July 14, for better pay, working conditions, and provisions on artificial intelligence. The WGA Strike lasted until Oct. 9, and the SAG strike lasted until Nov. 9. Things are now back to normal, and all productions have resumed. 

This year has been fairly average for television but there are some positive series that deserve the spotlight. “Squid Game: The Challenge” released Nov. 22, based on the 2021 South Korean thriller series, “Squid Game”, which pits hundreds of contestants against each other for a large cash prize. The catch is, in both the narrative and reality series, they all play traditional children’s games. Netflix released the American reality version that was announced in 2021, and was highly anticipated by fans of the original series. 

But the critics weren’t too kind to the show, as numerous contestants complained about the brutal conditions of each competition including low temperatures, and they felt the game was rigged to begin with as many influencers made it far in the game. The series also received an 81% on Rotten Tomatoes from audiences, and 41% from critics, making this series only average to viewers.

One of the most creative and best shows of the year was “Jury Duty” on Freevee and Amazon Prime. This truly original idea chronicles the jury duty process through the eyes of Ronald Gladden, who has no idea that everyone around him is an actor and the trial is an elaborate reality show experiment. The first season is truly hilarious and extremely heartwarming. One of the Jurors includes actor James Marsden whose performance is incredibly unhinged. Audiences have never experienced a series like this and it shows with its recognition during the 75th Emmy nominations, being up for Outstanding Comedy Series and James Marsden being up for Outstanding Supporting Actor in a Comedy Series, and also receiving nominations at the Golden Globe Awards as well. The true creativity that “Jury Duty” has makes it stick out during 2023.

Everyone’s favorite Chicago restaurant is back with “The Bear” season two being released in June. As well as “Succession” season four being released to Max. This is the series’ fourth and final season, but fans don’t have to say goodbye forever. Fans can live like the Roys as prominent props are being auctioned off next month. Pedro Pascal rose to even higher popularity levels when HBO released “The Last Of Us”. Based on the video game of the same name, this frame-by-frame remake of the game took the world by storm. This post-apocalyptic thriller follows Joel and Ellie as they endure ruthless circumstances and trek across America in a post-outbreak world. Audiences were glued to the screen every week, but in classic HBO fashion season two of “The Last of Us” is set to release in 2025.

Another hit from Amazon Prime, season two of “The Summer I Turned Pretty” dropped over the summer. Based on the book series of the same name by Jenny Han, season two follows the second book of the series, “It’s Not Summer Without You”. The season follows Belly, who after breaking up with her longtime family friend and boyfriend Conrad, finds comfort in his brother Jeremiah after their mother’s death. This season definitely pulls on fan’s heartstrings and follows the second book in the series perfectly. Season two was trending on all social media platforms, including viral TikTok sounds, to “TSITP” inspired outfits. The amazing television we got this summer made it a summer we won’t forget.  

Ella’s Industry Review:

“Girl, the strike.”

It was the summer of strikes and labor rights. In a watershed moment for artists’ rights, the WGA and SAG negotiated outstanding contracts for writers and actors alike, after a grueling three and a half months of strikes. Receiving support from the DGA, PGA, and other Hollywood unions, the strikes showed the AMPTP that everyone deserves to be compensated fairly, and that AI can’t replicate the magic of cinema and television the way that real people can. 

The terms of the contracts broke down doors for staff writers and background actors too, increasing their wages and protecting their work. After the strikes, they spared no time in getting back to work, with the third seasons of “The Bear”, “Abbott Elementary”, and “The White Lotus” all reported to be back in the writer’s room, or production.

In another huge moment for unions, the VFX workers at Marvel Studios voted to unionize, after several reports (including one from Variety) detailed the intense workload they deal with and such little time to complete it. This comes after MCU films have been increasingly under fire for “lazy” VFX and ugly color grading, noting the films don’t look like real films anymore, and that because Marvel is refusing to treat its crews fairly, the quality of their films are suffering. The MCU has made some major changes, including rearranging their slate to allow post-production crews to spend more time on upcoming films, like “The Thunderbolts” and “Captain America 4”. While 2023 only added on to the MCU’s apparent downfall, we could be in for a major renaissance in the next few years, especially with the internet’s favorite actor, Pedro Pascal, joining the cast of “Fantastic Four”. 

It was also the summer of “girlhood”, namely: “Barbie”, Beyonce, and Taylor Swift. All three had record-breaking box offices, with the “Eras Tour” becoming the highest-grossing tour of all time, raking in over $1 billion. It is expected to gross almost $2 billion by the end of its run in December 2024. Swift also had 2 albums in the “Taylor’s Version” saga released, “Speak Now (Taylor’s Version)”, and “1989 (Taylor’s Version)”, with the latter selling 1.65 million copies in the first week and becoming Swift’s biggest first-week sales ever, beating “Midnights” (1.5 million in 2022) and the original “1989” (1.28 million in 2014). In an era where artists rarely crack 500K first-week sales, Swift continues to show that she is the biggest star of our generation, and is indisputably one of the biggest artists of all time.

“The Eras Tour” and “Renaissance: A Film By Beyonce” kept the good times going into the autumn and winter seasons, with Swift and Beyonce showing up to each other’s respective premieres (and giving us some incredible Instagram content). The two have candidly talked about how they were constantly pitted against each other not just over the summer, but throughout their entire careers. They’ve turned the narrative on its head, showing up and supporting each other time and time again for their own groundbreaking achievements. 

Speaking of two successful people being pitted against each other, “Barbenheimer” was more than just a double feature, it was a massive cultural movement. Both films grossed over $2 billion together, and inspired a legion of memes, critiques, and gave cinemas the much-needed resurgence in the early days of the SAG-AFTRA strike. Both films are up for a multitude of awards already and are among the best films released in 2023. The hype is still there, especially after the leads, Cillian Murphy of “Oppenheimer” and Margot Robbie of “Barbie”, teamed up for Variety’s “Actors on Actors” series, and discussed how surreal it was to see two massive films celebrated at once, instead of competing against one another. 

We can breathe a little easier going into 2024, as the AMPTP and major Hollywood guilds don’t negotiate again until 2026 (except for the Animation Guild next summer). It’s almost time to shift into awards season mode, which will surely make far too many bad, tired jokes about the strikes. But if we remember the spirit of the writers, actors, and other Hollywood employees who put their livelihoods on the line to bring us their art, the awards will surely feel a little sweeter.


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About the Contributors
Grace Doyle, Associate Producer: #THAT
Grace Doyle is a senior 3+1 film, television, and media arts major from Dedham, Massachusetts. She works as production assistant on campus and has interned with 7News WHDH-TV and Tuff Gong Worldwide. She is an Associate Producer on #THAT and has previously served as a Music and Television Beat Reporter for Q30TV.
Elizabeth Ippolito, Executive Producer: #THAT, Television Beat Reporter
Liz Ippolito is a Grad student studying Cinematic Production Management and recently graduated with her bachelors in TV, Film, and Media Arts with a Minor in Media Studies. She is from Oradell New Jersey and is returning for her second year as the Executive Producer on #THAT. Ippolito also serves as the Television beat reporter for the station.
Gabriella Madden, Web Director
Gabriella Madden is the Web Director for the 2023-2024 school year, as well as a third year 3+1 Film, Television, and Media Arts major and Journalism and Marketing double minor. She will be receiving her masters of journalism in 2025, and previously served as the Entertainment Industry beat reporter in the 2022-2023 school year. She is from Braintree, Massachusetts, and has done media related work from Flaunt Magazine, Quinnipiac IMC and Athletic Communications, to her local sheriff's office.

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