Timeline of Greatest Film
Milestones and Turning Points
in Film History


The Year 2001

Timeline of Greatest Film History Milestones and Turning Points
(by decade and year)
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2000, 2001, 2002, 2003, 2004, 2005, 2006, 2007, 2008, 2009

The Year 2001
Year
Event and Significance
2001
There were the first three premieres of much-anticipated, monumental series of films: the Harry Potter films, the Shrek films, and the Lord of the Rings films. The first film to be adapted from the popular series of young adult books authored by J.K. Rowling was released, Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone (2001), on track to be one of the most successful film franchises of all time in the next ten years. It also was the highest-grossing (domestic) film of the year, at $317.5 million, just surpassing The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001) at $313 million. Of all eight Harry Potter films, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, Part 2 (2011) became the single, # 1 highest-grossing (domestic) film of the franchise, finally surpassing the first film in the series.
2001
The first installment of the J.R.R. Tolkien fantasy books was released by director Peter Jackson: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring (2001). Jackson would go on to complete a nine-hour trilogy in the next few years, with two more films: The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers (2002), and The Lord of the Rings: Return of the King (2003).
2001
DreamWorks SKG's Shrek (2001) was the first film to win an Academy Award Oscar for Best Animated Feature, a category introduced in 2001. It counteracted the traditional Disney animation formula for a fairy tale with its main character - an ugly, greenish ogre (voice of Mike Myers), with a pop music soundtrack (featuring songs by Joan Jett, Smash Mouth, and others). Shrek (2001) was the # 3 highest-grossing (domestic) film of the year, at $267.7 million.
2001
A potential strike by the Writers Guild of America (WGA) against the Alliance of Motion Picture and Television Producers (AMPTP) over their contract threatened to cripple Hollywood.
2001
Walt Disney Co. reached an agreement with the owners of Fox Family Worldwide to buy the company for $3.3 billion, plus the assumption of $2.1 billion in debt. Fox Family, which owns cable channels around the world, was the troubled joint venture of News Corporation and Haim Saban, the cartoon marketer who parlayed millions of dollars from Mighty Morphin Power Rangers into an ownership position and role as chief executive of the operation. The deal included the Fox Family Channel, which had 81 million cable subscribers in the US - and would be renamed ABC Family. It would allow the company to broaden its target audience and expand cable holdings, which included ESPN and SoapNet.
2001
DVD sales revenues first exceeded VHS videotape sales revenues in 2001.
2001
The American Film Institute (AFI) released the third list in its continuing series, 100 Years...100 Thrills, to recognize the top 100 American films that were the most "heart-pounding" in cinematic history. Psycho (1960) was named the top "thrilling" film of all time.
2001
One of the most prolific and acclaimed film producers/writers/directors died at the age of 95, Billy Wilder. He won Oscars for Best Director and Best Screenplay for The Lost Weekend (1945), Best Story/Screenplay for Sunset Boulevard (1950), and Best Director and Best Story/Screenplay for The Apartment (1960). He was also noted for directing the classic film noir Double Indemnity (1944), and the hit comedy Some Like It Hot (1959).
2001
Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within (2001), the first photo-realistic, fully computer-generated feature film, was premiered. The most complex CG human character ever created was Dr. Aki Ross, who was reported to have 60,000 individual strands of hair. The amount of detail rendered into hair, clothing, skin texture, eyes, and movement was astounding and impressive. The film was inspired by a best-selling series of video games by the film's director, Hironobu Sakaguchi. Its production budget was estimated to be $137 million, with box-office of only $32 million gross income (domestic) and $53 million (foreign) - $85 million total. The massive losses caused the bankruptcy and closing of its production studio, Square Pictures.
2001
Director Pitof's dark 19th century crime fantasy Vidocq (2001) was the world's first-completed theatrical feature film shot entirely on Hi-Def digital video. This first full-length, all-digital film was shot using a Sony HD-CAM 24P1 (1080p, 24fps) high-definition digital camera, producing astonishing visuals. It was released a year before George Lucas' and Hollywood's first big-budget all-digital production of Star Wars - Episode II: Attack of the Clones (2002).
2001
MTV star and actor Tom Green's gross-out, teen-oriented film Freddy Got Fingered (2001), (his directorial debut) was rated R -- thereby ironically, possibly preventing some of its teen-aged audience from attending. Green was awarded (in 2002) the Razzie award for 'Worst Actor' for his role in the film. In fact, the film was nominated for eight Razzies and won five: Worst Actor (Green), Worst Director (Green), Worst Screen Couple (Green and any abused animal in the film), Worst Screenplay (co-writer Green), and Worst Picture.
2001
Not Another Teen Movie (2001) was released to serve as a parody of Hollywood teen flicks from the last few decades. It used cliched lines of dialogue and most of its characters were stereotypical teen portrayals (for example, the Pretty Ugly Girl, the Popular Jock, the Bitchy Cheerleader, the Token Black Guy, the Dream Girl, the Naked Foreign Exchange Student).
2001
The delightfully-sweet and quirky French comedy-fantasy Amelie (2001, Fr.), starring Audrey Tatou, earned an unprecedented $33 million (domestic) - it was the highest-grossing French-language film ever in the US.
2001
Director Patrice Chéreau's French arthouse film Intimacy (2001), her first English-language film, was noted for extremely graphic and explicit sex scenes, heretofore unseen. It portrayed a married woman's (Kerry Fox) engagement in a series of once-weekly, Wednesday afternoon, emotionally-apathetic, physical encounters with emotionally-cold and lonely, divorced bar manager Jay (Mark Rylance). This controversial film exhibited their sexual couplings, with numerous, unflattering and raw, wordless sexual encounters including uncensored fellatio. It was notable as the first theatrically-distributed film to depict the act of fellatio.
2001
For the first time, African-Americans won in both the Best Actor and Best Actress Oscar categories (awarded in 2002): Denzel Washington for Training Day (2001) and Halle Berry for Monster's Ball (2001). Washington became the second African-American actor to win the Oscar for Best Actor. Berry's Oscar marked the first time an African-American woman had ever won the top performance award. (Ironically, in 2000, Halle Berry won the Emmy and the Golden Globes awards playing the title role in the critically-acclaimed HBO television movie Introducing Dorothy Dandridge (1999). Dandridge was the first African-American actress to be nominated for the Oscar, for Carmen Jones (1954).) Denzel Washington became the first African-American performer to win multiple acting Oscars - in other words, he became the only black actor with two Oscars (with both Best Actor and Best Supporting Actor Oscar wins).
2001
Paramount's Lara Croft: Tomb Raider (2001), starring bust-enhanced Angelina Jolie to look like the video-game heroine, was the highest-grossing action film with a female lead, surpassing Charlie's Angels (2000) and Aliens (1986) - with Sigourney Weaver. The film also became the most successful (top-grossing) movie adapted from a video game, at $131 million (domestic) and $275 million (worldwide). [Other attempts at video-games transitioning to the big screen that did fairly well included: Pokemon: The First Movie (1999), Mortal Kombat (1995), the sequel Lara Croft Tomb Raider: The Cradle of Life (2003), and the Resident Evil films (2002-2007); some of the less successful adaptations included Super Mario Brothers (1993), Double Dragon (1994), Street Fighter (1994), Wing Commander (1999), and Doom (2005).] The Lara Croft video game series sold about 21 million units -- the games and associated merchandise brought in about a half billion dollars.
2001
The cult fantasy sci-fi classic Donnie Darko (2001) was about a paranoid, troubled schizophrenic teenager who survived a jet-engine crashing into his bedroom, and had visions of a giant bunny (Frank) who predicted Doomsday in 28 days. The original film was little noticed when originally released, but midnight screenings and the release of the 2004 "Director's Cut" on DVD helped it to become a major cult favorite.
2001
Australian director Baz Luhrmann's dazzling big-screen musical Moulin Rouge! (2001) revolutionized the musical in that its audacious rock-opera soundtrack was composed of well-known pop songs of the late 20th century ("Like a Virgin", "Your Song", "One Day I'll Fly Away" and more), although the setting was a legendary Paris nightclub circa 1900. The film was considered the third of Luhrmann's "Red Curtain" trilogy, following Strictly Ballroom (1992) and William Shakespeare's Romeo + Juliet (1996).
2001
Terrorists hijacked two planes and crashed them into the World Trade Center in New York City, causing the Twin Towers to collapse on September 11, 2001 (aka 9-11). A third hijacked plane struck the west side of the Pentagon, and a fourth crashed into a rural field in Pennsylvania when the passengers tried to retake control. Nearly 3,000 people were killed in the attacks. A number of subsequent films dramatized 9/11: the documentary 9/11 (2002), Paul Greengrass' United 93 (2006), and Oliver Stone's World Trade Center (2006).
2001
Spirited Away (2001) became the best-selling Japanese movie of all time, and also was the first anime feature film to win an Academy Award -- Best Animated Feature (the Oscar was awarded in 2002).
2001
Cute blonde Southern actress Reese Witherspoon had appeared in many films before 2001, including her first role as a young girl in The Man in the Moon (1991), Fear (1996), Freeway (1996), a semi-nude minor part in Twilight (1998), and in Cruel Intentions (1999). Her acclaimed breakthrough role was as Tracy Flick in Election (1999), but the role that caused her career to begin its peak was as pink-obsessed Elle Wood in Legally Blonde (2001).
2001
Ridley Scott's dramatic war film Black Hawk Down (2001) was actor Josh Hartnett's second war-themed blockbuster of the year, earning $108.6 million (domestic). He had earlier starred in director Michael Bay's WWII epic Pearl Harbor (2001), earning $198.5 million (domestic).


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