Timeline of Greatest Film
Milestones and Turning Points
in Film History


The Year 2021

Timeline of Greatest Film History Milestones and Turning Points
(by decade and year)
Introduction | Pre-1900s | 1900s | 1910s | 1920s | 1930s | 1940s | 1950s
1960s | 1970s | 1980s | 1990s | 2000s | 2010s | 2020s
2020, 2021

The Year 2021
Year
Event and Significance
2021
Acclaimed actor Hal Halbrook died at the age of 95 on January 23, 2021. His most honored character role was playing Mark Twain in a one-man stage show - a signature performance. Films he starred in included All the President's Men (1976) as Deep Throat, and Into the Wild (2007).
2021
Cloris Leachman died at the age of 94 on January 27, 2021. She had a memorable Best Supporting Actress role as Ruth Popper in The Last Picture Show (1971), and also starred in Young Frankenstein (1974) as Frau Blücher. She also had a bit role in the opening of the classic film noir Kiss Me Deadly (1955).
2021
Canadian actor Christopher Plummer died at the age of 91 on February 5, 2021. His most well-remembered and notable performance was opposite Julie Andrews in The Sound of Music (1965). Plummer also had roles in The Man Who Would Be King (1975), The Insider (1999), and The Last Station (2009), among others. He had two notable Academy Award-related honors. At the age of 82, he won the Academy Award for Best Supporting Actor for Beginners (2010), becoming the oldest person to win an acting award. At the age of 88, he also received a Best Supporting Actor nomination for the crime-thriller All the Money in the World (2017), making him the oldest person to be nominated in an acting category.
2021
The 93rd Academy Awards were scheduled about two months later than usual, broadcast on April 25, 2021, to allow for a longer eligibility period for films (from January 1, 2020 to February 28, 2021), due to the COVID-pandemic. Nominations were scheduled for March 15, 2021. The TV broadcast of the show itself, held in socially-distanced Union Station in Los Angeles, CA, tallied less than 10 million viewers (the LOWEST ever) - down 58% from last year's show (a 13.75 million viewer drop-off from the previous low).
2021
Due to the unpredictable pandemic, release dates for films were still being revised and adjusted. Some release dates for films to be traditionally shown in theatres changed, while some movies were being released to streaming services (Amazon, Netflix, Hulu and Disney +, for example). With almost 65% of US movie cinema houses closed in the early part of the year (while markets in LA and NYC remained locked down), it was difficult to justify a theatre-release for many films. Most of the major blockbuster releases were scheduled for the summer of 2021. Some films were released as hybrids - simultaneously on a subscription streaming service and in movie-houses.
2021
MGM's next Bond film, No Time to Die (2021), the 25th, has been rescheduled multiple times - first it was pushed from April 2020 to November 2020, and then rescheduled for the spring of 2021 (on April 2, 2021), although its ultimate play date was to be October 8, 2021.
2021
The latest example of renewed scrutiny of classic films from the past occurred when Disney+ removed several movies from its streaming service, including animated features Dumbo (1941), Peter Pan (1953), and The Aristocats (1970), and the live-action Swiss Family Robinson (1960). The fore mentioned films were restricted from children's (kids) profiles (under age 7) because of negative depictions and outdated stereotypes. Young children could no longer access the films without parental consent. Earlier, Disney had placed 10-12 second content warnings for the unedited films, citing: "This program includes negative depictions and/or mistreatment of people and cultures. These stereotypes were wrong then and are wrong now. Rather than remove this content, we want to acknowledge its harmful impact, learn from it and spark conversation to create a more inclusive future together." In Dumbo (1941), Disney explained that the crows (led by Jim Crow) and their musical number referenced racist minstrel shows. In Peter Pan (1953), the complaint was about the portrayal of Native peoples (referred to as 'redskins'). In Disney's 20th feature film animation, The Aristocats (1970), the last animated feature to be approved by Walt Disney himself, the main argument was against a Siamese cat that was portrayed with an East Asian caricature. And Swiss Family Robinson (1960) was criticized for its depiction of menacing, dark-faced and foreign pirates - deemed barbaric and stereotypical.
2021
The so-called 'cancel culture' movement to reassess problematic cultural images was evidenced by the WarnerMedia-owned cable channel Turner Classic Movies (TCM). It was announced that the channel's primetime programming on Thursdays (in the month of March 2021) would start a new series titled: "Reframed: Classic Films In The Rearview Mirror." Before airing 18 selected (and much-loved) culturally-significant classic films (from the 1920s to the 1960s), host-commentators would introduce each film and explain its cultural and historical context. The main issues were with alleged racism, sexism, portrayals of LGBTQ issues and more. It was cited that "We often see problems now that we might not have seen when they were made, whether it's about race, gender or LGBT issues." The films to be aired included The Jazz Singer (1927), Tarzan the Ape Man (1932), the Astaire-Rogers dance musical Swing Time (1936) (with a blackface number), Gone With the Wind (1939), The Four Feathers (1939), Gunga Din (1939), Stagecoach (1939), the Tracy-Hepburn comedy Woman of the Year (1942), Dragon Seed (1944), Sinbad the Sailor (1947), Hitchcock's Rope (1948), Seven Brides For Seven Brothers (1954), John Ford's classic John Wayne western The Searchers (1956), Psycho (1960), the romantic comedy Breakfast at Tiffany's (1961), The Children's Hour (1961), My Fair Lady (1964), and Guess Who's Coming to Dinner (1967).
2021
NBCUniversal made the surprise announcement that it was canceling the 2022 Golden Globes Awards telecast. The decision followed years of reports about the organization's financial improprieties, and its lack of diverse representation (including no Black members in its enrollment of 87 members).
2021
There were rumors that Amazon was involved in talks about a potential deal to purchase MGM for anywhere between $7 billion and $10 billion.
2021
Universal Pictures (and its NBC Universal streaming service Peacock) announced that it would spend $400 million (on franchise rights) to bring back a new trilogy of horror films based upon the mega-blockbuster horror classic The Exorcist (1973). The first film in the new series, starring original star Ellen Burstyn and directed by David Gordon Green, was planned to appear in theaters in mid-October 2023, and the second and third films would exclusively debut on Peacock. [Note: The original 1973 film already had two sequels, Exorcist II: The Heretic (1977) and The Exorcist III (1990), and a prequel - Exorcist: The Beginning (2004).] The 1973 film directed by William Friedkin grossed over $441 million (worldwide) to date. Adjusted for inflation, it was the 9th highest-grossing film of all-time, the highest-grossing R-rated film of all time, and the highest-performing pure horror film.
2021
Godzilla vs. Kong (2021) became the first film to approach almost $100 million in the US and Canada since the pandemic began. In the international box office, it surpassed $330 million in ticket sales, bringing its global total to over $400 million.
2021
A study (partially funded by the USC Annenberg Inclusion Initiative was conducted and a report was issued titled: "The Prevalence and Portrayal of Asian and Pacific Islanders across 1,300 Popular Films." The study assessed Asian and Pacific Islander (API) leads and speaking characters across 1,300 top-grossing films from 2007 to 2019. The results found that across 51,159 speaking characters in the movies evaluated, 5.9% were API. The number fell short of the 7.1% of the US population that identified as API. The report also revealed that 39% of all movies failed to show even one API character. Broken down separately, the findings were even more obvious: 40.2% of films didn’t have a single Asian character and 94.2% didn’t feature a Pacific Islander. In terms of starring roles, only 44 (or 3.4%) of all 1,300 movies had an API lead or co-star across 13 years, with only six of those featuring an API woman in a leading role.
2021
After many decades, and mostly due to the pandemic, it became the norm that the roughly 3-month long "theatrical window" (the length of time that a movie would exclusively play in theatres) was to be shortened to a window of only 45 days. The pandemic aided movie studios in experimenting with new release models - including the simultaneous debut of many movies in theatres and on demand (or streaming services). This spelled the death knell for theatres having any leverage or bargaining power for a longer 'theatrical window.' The concept of a theatrical window developed in the 1980s during the videocassette boom. Studios have long argued for the shorter window time, since most movies make the bulk of ticket sales in the first few weekends.
2021
In early May of 2021, NBC-TV announced that it would no longer broadcast the Golden Globes award show (beginning in 2022), although the Golden Globes have existed for 77 years (first held in January of 1944 to honor 1943's films), although the door was left open for the year 2023. According to entertainment sources, the award show of the Hollywood Foreign Press Association (HFPA) that had received widespread criticism, was suffering from a major lack of diversity among its correspondents (no Black journalists among its 87 members), low TV ratings, and alleged ethical issues and practices.


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