The 2021 Entertainment Industry Scoreboard


Reese Witherspoon conceded. Rihanna and Kim Kardashian West became billionaires. And that was “Glory Days” for Bruce. But not all the stars have shone in a year of massive deals.

EEyebrows were raised when, just six days after the start of the year, Neil Young announced that he had turned “Heart of Gold” and the rest of its catalog of songs into gold by selling them to the management company. of Hipgnosis songs for $ 150 million. In the wake of Bob Dylan’s similar $ 300 million deal struck weeks earlier, it seemed clear that this was just the start of an entertainment bull market.

Then came the announcement in March that Paul Simon was selling his songbook for $ 250 million, followed by sales involving members of Fleetwood Mac, heirs to the Prince Estate and the Red Hot Chili Peppers. The year ended on an even higher note, when news broke that Bruce Springsteen allegedly sold his catalog to Sony Music for at least half a billion to Sony Music in December, apparently the biggest contract ever for the work of a lifetime of an individual artist.

Music sales were just the tip of a huge intellectual property iceberg that climbed in value in 2021. In May, Friends once again took advantage of a show that grossed over $ 1.4 billion for actors and creators as they switched from Netflix loyalty to HBOMax. Then Viacom signed an agreement to pay the creators of South Park more than $ 900 million over several years.

And some say the pop culture horse trade is just getting started, so look for a lot more drama in 2022. Until then, here’s a look at the highlights of 2021.

Rap star. Contractor. Billionaire

After a decade as the best-selling hip-hop actor, “Umbrella” singer Rihanna joined the Three Comma Club in August when Forbes confirmed that it owns 50% of its Fenty Beauty line, in a joint venture with luxury house LVMH.

With Friends Like these …

The actors and creative minds behind Friends, one of Network TV’s most beloved sitcoms caused a stir with its reunion show, which aired on HBO Max in May. The actors earned around $ 5 million each for their appearance. This is just the icing on the cake: absolutely Forbes estimates that the show has grossed over $ 1 billion in pre-tax profits since its premiere in 1994; the actors made $ 816 million before taxes, or $ 136 million each.

Bilbo Baggins billions

the Lord of the Rings Director Peter Jackson’s foray into visual effects through his Weta Digital store has paid off. The New Zealand company, which he co-founded to produce effects Celestial creatures (1994), has grown into a Hollywood powerhouse, providing computer-generated images for everything from Wolverine (2013) to the 2019 remake of The Lady and the Tramp. In November, Weta announced that part of its assets were sold for $ 1.6 billion to Unity Software, which makes software for video games. Forbes cautiously believes that the deal officially makes Jackson a billionaire.

Finally free?

Britney Spears was finally released from her guardianship in November after 13 years, but the fight didn’t end there, with the potential for a legal battle against Father Jamie Spears looming. What comes next for the pop star isn’t clear, but the damage isn’t: Forbes determined that his $ 60 million fortune was shockingly low compared to his peers, due to millions spent on legal fees and a long-standing dearth of brand partnerships, tours and new music.

A beautiful brand

Kim Kardashian West officially became a billionaire in April thanks mainly to two lucrative businesses: KKW Beauty and Skims. Cosmetics company Coty acquired a 20% stake in the Kardashian beauty brand in January in a deal valuing the company at $ 1 billion. Meanwhile, his shapewear brand Skim is valued at over $ 500 million, according to a source. Thanks to a marriage contract, the reality star and lawyer is expected to walk away with her fortune and assets intact whenever her pending divorce from Kanye West is finalized.

Slam dunk

It’s been a good year for NBA hero LeBron James. He had a leading role in Space Jam: a new legacy and it sold a large minority stake in its entertainment group SpringHill in October for a valuation of $ 725 million to a consortium of investors that included Nike and Epic Games. Forbes estimates his stake at $ 300 million, which brings his net worth to around $ 850 million, after factoring in taxes, expenses and returns on investment.

Texas tragedy

Massive crowds at Travis Scott’s Astroworld concert in Houston in November killed 10 people and continues to impact the rapper, whose image and businesses have taken a hit: some 300 lawsuits have been filed; Anheuser-Busch cut ties with Travis Scott and his seltzer brand Cacti, Nike delayed the release of its Travis Scott sneakers, and he was pulled from the Coachella line in 2022.

Reduce recording

Taylor Swift’s re-recording of her 2012 album Red debuted at number one on the Billboard Top 200, making her the second woman to have 10 or more albums to reach No.1 after Barbra Streisand, who had 11 according to Billboard. The re-recording, which is part of Swift’s strategy to regain control of its masters after mega-manager (and Swift’s nemesis) Scooter Braun sold his originals to private equity firm Shamrock Holdings; his bet paid off, with new recordings topping the charts and devaluing Shamrock’s investment.

Donda missed

Kanye West has made his rap genius a billionaire’s fortune, but 2021 has shown that even an icon is not immune to missteps. The former presidential candidate turned to controversial guests including DaBaby (for homophobic remarks) and Marilyn Manson (facing sexual abuse charges) for his new album, Donda. It did not work. Her 10th studio album, named after her late mother, was largely exhausted after its fall in August.

Hello, pay day

Actress Reese Witherspoon sold her five-year production company Hello Sunshine to a Blackstone-backed company for $ 900 million in August, pocketing $ 120 million after-tax in the deal and netting a big win for the gender parity in Hollywood.

The green widow

After the simultaneous release of Disney Black Widow in theaters and on her streaming platform, the star Scarlett Johansson sued the Mouse House, claiming until $ 50 million in lost bonus payments. Disney retaliated by publicly revealing his initial salary of $ 20 million, a no-no to Hollywood. The two then settled in for an undisclosed sum.

Cuomo not free

It wasn’t a good year for the Cuomo family – Andrew Cuomo resigned his post as New York governor in August amid the fallout from his sexual harassment scandal – while his younger brother Chris Cuomo was fired from his job. CNN’s presenter post in December after legal documents revealed the extent to which he aided Andrew in his battle against harassment allegations, seen as an unforgivable violation of journalistic ethics.

Gone but not forgotten

Even after death, success in show business can still be expensive. In September, 31 years after the creator of Charlie and the chocolate factory died of cancer at age 74, Netflix paid a report $ 684 million for the Roald Dahl Story Company and the rights to the stories of the British novelist.


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