- There are now almost 35,600 multiplex theater systems now opened, but drive-in's have dropped to only 667.
- A struggling New Line Studio bets the farm on director Peter Jackson's vision to bring J.R.R. Tolkien's Lord of the Rings to the screen. Expanding from a one to a three picture deal and a $200 million budget, Jackson shoots all 3 films over a 15 month period in New Zealand. They are set to be released over the next 3 years.
- Ridley Scott directs the Roman Epic Gladiator starring Russell Crowe.
- Ang Lee directs the top grossing foreign film Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon with veteran kung fu director Yuen Wo Ping choreographing the gravity-defying fight scenes.
- Baz Luhrman redefines the musical with Moulin Rouge
- The terrorist attacks of September 11 in America puts a freeze on many Hollywood films due to their action or comedy towards violence. Other films are re-edited to remove the now destroyed World Trade Center, a hard to miss New York City landmark. Many of the biggest Hollywood stars join forces in a telethon to raise money for the disaster.
- The bestselling children's book Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone makes its screen debut.
- Peter Jackson's first Lord of the Ring's film, Fellowship of the Rings, becomes a huge critical and financial success.
- Minorities have a huge night at the Oscars, with black stars Denzel Washington and Halle Berry both winning the top acting awards. This is the first best Actress Oscar going to a black performer.
- Spiderman becomes the most successful superhero movie.
- Lucas' second Star Wars prequel Attack of the Clones is the first major Hollywood movie to be filmed entirely with digital video.
- The second Lord of the Ring's film, The Two Towers, is again a huge hit and introduces an amazing CGI character. It will put the special effects company WETA, on par with the Lucas company ILM.
- Chicago becomes the first Musical to win a best picture Oscar since 1972's Cabaret.
- Pixar continues its streak of creating top-notch digital movies, releasing Finding Nemo the most successful animated film to date.
- Inspired by their amusement park ride, Disney releases Pirates of the Caribbean, the first successful "pirate" film in decades.
- Action star Arnold Schwarzenegger becomes govenor of California after a recall of the elected govenor Grey Davis.
- Mel Gibson takes a gamble by producing and directing The Passion of the Christ. This retelling of the last hours of Jesus' life is considered anti-semetic and too graphic. It becomes an overnight hit.
- New Line and Peter Jackson's gamble on The Lord of the Rings trilogy ends with a bang, when the third film, The Return of the King, sweeps the Oscars with 11 wins, including Best Picture and Best Director.
- The Disney company fails to offer Pixar, the computer animation company, a new contract and they part ways. Michael Eisner, head of Disney, soon finds himself in trouble with the stockholders.