The biggest showbiz stories of 2023: From Hollywood shutting down to Barbie

Barbie became the biggest film of the year after out-earning 2022’s biggest hit, Top Gun: Maverick.

Ryan Gosling and Margot Robbie.
Ryan Gosling and Margot Robbie. (Ian West/PA)

In a year when Hollywood was brought to a standstill by actors and writers going on strike, 2023 was still alive with a host of celebrity news.

The year saw a film about a children’s doll dominate the box office, Sir Elton John play his final tour shows and the Duke of Sussex have his day in court.

Here is a round-up of the biggest moments of the year:

A Sag-Aftra picket line outside Netflix studios in November in Los Angeles (Chris Pizzello/AP)
A Sag-Aftra picket line outside Netflix studios in November in Los Angeles (Chris Pizzello/AP) (Chris Pizzello/Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

– Actors and writers on picket lines

Production of films and television shows around the world, including UK-based filming of Deadpool 3 and Wicked, was halted due to strike action by the Sag-Aftra union, which lasted 118 days.

It also saw actors walk out from premieres, including for Christopher Nolan’s biopic Oppenheimer, as stars Cillian Murphy, Emily Blunt and Matt Damon exited the red carpet in London on July 14.

The 75th Emmy Awards were postponed from September until January before the strike ended on November 9 when a tentative agreement was reached between the union and the Alliance of Motion Picture and TV Producers (AMPTP).

The deal was officially ratified this month and includes agreements on artificial intelligence and working with streaming companies.

The actors’ strike came at the same time as Writers Guild of America (WGA) action, which was resolved in September as the union agreed a deal with studio bosses after 146 days on the picket line.

– Barbenheimer 

Barbie became the biggest film of 2023 after out-earning 2022’s biggest hit, Top Gun: Maverick.

Starring Margot Robbie as the titular character and Ryan Gosling as Ken, Greta Gerwig’s movie about the Mattel doll is Warner Bros’ most successful theatrical release of all time.

It also became part of a pop culture phenomenon as moviegoers watched it back-to-back with Oppenheimer, a darker story focusing on the director of the Manhattan Project, J Robert Oppenheimer, and his efforts to build an atomic bomb.

Going to the two films together was dubbed Barbenheimer as they were released on the same day, July 21.

– The Beatles and the Rolling Stones release new music

Sir Ringo Starr and Sir Paul McCartney
Sir Ringo Starr and Sir Paul McCartney

The Beatles released Now And Then in November by finishing off a track, originally written and sung by John Lennon in the 1970s, using technology to overlay music from living members Sir Paul McCartney and Sir Ringo Starr as well as the late George Harrison.

After the release of a video, in which old footage of Lennon and Harrison were added alongside Sir Paul and Sir Ringo, the remastered song made history for the band as they became the act with the longest gap between two chart-toppers.

The Rolling Stones earned their 14th number one album in October with Hackney Diamonds – the first release with new songs since drummer Charlie Watts died in August 2021.

– Taylor Swift and Beyonce tour films released 

Swift, 34, and Beyonce, 42, ruled the box office with the release of separate concert films in cinemas.

Beyonce’s concert film grossed millions (Chris Pizzello/AP)
Beyonce’s concert film grossed millions (Chris Pizzello/AP) (Chris Pizzello/Chris Pizzello/Invision/AP)

Renaissance: A Film By Beyonce came first in its week of release in December when it took 21 million dollars (£16.5 million) in North American ticket sales, while Taylor Swift: The Eras Tour had the highest ticket sales revenue during a single day in AMC Theatres’ 103-year history, and earned 92.8 million dollars (£73 million) in October.

Swift also broke Vue International’s record for the most tickets sold during the UK pre-sale opening week for a music event and Odeon had to add more screenings.

– Girls Aloud reform and Take That and Blur play dates

Take That headlined the BST Hyde Park festival in July with their first show in four years.

The boy band also announced in September that they would tour the UK and Ireland in 2024 as they release a new album next year.

In November, Girls Aloud announced they will reunite for an arena tour in memory of late bandmate Sarah Harding.

Nadine Coyle, Cheryl, Nicola Roberts, Harding and Kimberley Walsh previously reunited with new music for their 10th anniversary in 2012.

Girls Aloud on stage in 2012
Girls Aloud on stage in 2012

A second reunion was planned for their 20th anniversary before Harding died aged 39 in September 2021 after a battle with cancer.

In July, Britpop group Blur headlined their first UK show since 2015 at Wembley Stadium in London.

The same month, Sir Elton played the last date of his Farewell Yellow Brick Road tour in Stockholm, Sweden, after a triumphant Glastonbury headlining performance.

– Rihanna: The half-time show and baby announcement

Rihanna revealed her latest pregnancy while performing in a red outfit and stroking her stomach at the Super Bowl half-time show in February.

The Barbadian singer, 35, gave birth to her first child with rapper ASAP Rocky – son RZA Athelston Mayers – in May last year.

Their second son, Riot Rose, was born on August 1, according to reports.

Rihanna gave birth to her second son with rapper ASAP Rocky
Rihanna gave birth to her second son with rapper ASAP Rocky

– Celebrities hit the headlines due to court cases

Gwyneth Paltrow was among the stars to face legal action this year.

The Oscar-winning actress won a high-profile ski collision civil lawsuit in March, and in December Awkward Productions put on a musical based on her legal battle with a retired Utah optometrist.

Due to the success of Gwyneth Goes Skiing, the Pleasance Theatre in London announced more shows next year.

Another Oscar-winner, actor Kevin Spacey, was cleared in July at Southwark Crown Court of a string of alleged sex attacks.

The American Beauty and House Of Cards star, 64, was found not guilty of nine sex offences involving four men between 2001 and 2013.

After the ruling, the Hollywood star said: “I am humbled by the outcome today.”

Earlier this month, the Duke of Sussex was partially successful in his case against Mirror Group Newspaper (MGN) titles.

Kevin Spacey outside Southwark Crown Court
Kevin Spacey outside Southwark Crown Court (Yui Mok/PA)

A High Court judge ruled that phone hacking became “widespread and habitual” and was practised “even to some extent” during the Leveson Inquiry into press standards.

Harry, who at the start of the year had released his headline-grabbing memoir Spare, called on police to investigate the tabloid newspaper publisher after being awarded nearly £150,000 in damages.

An MGN spokesperson said: “Where historical wrongdoing took place, we apologise unreservedly, have taken full responsibility and paid appropriate compensation.”

– James Corden leaves The Late Late Show

In April, the British actor and comedian presented his final episode of The Late Late Show, for which he had won multiple Emmys.

The last CBS show featured appearances from megastar Harry Styles and actor Will Ferrell, and before the show a segment aired with British singer Adele taking over Corden’s Carpool Karaoke role as she drove him to work.

Rapper Tupac Shakur.(Frank Wiese/AP)
Rapper Tupac Shakur.(Frank Wiese/AP) (Frank Wiese/AP)

However, this was not the last of Corden interviewing celebrities as SiriusXM announced in November that he will host This Life Of Mine With James Corden.

– Man charged nearly 30 years after shooting of Tupac Shakur

Duane Keith “Keffe D” Davis was charged in September with rapper and actor Tupac Shakur’s murder after a 1996 drive-by shooting near the Las Vegas Strip.

The former Los Angeles gang leader, originally from Compton, was one of the last living witnesses to the incident and has denied the allegations.

Sam Smith’s outfit at the Brit Awards
Sam Smith’s outfit at the Brit Awards

– In other news….

The red carpet saw interesting outfits from British singer Sam Smith, who wore a black latex bodysuit to the Brit Awards, rapper Dojo Cat being covered in thousands of red crystals for a Paris fashion shoot, and actor Jared Leto donning a cat costume for the Met Gala.

The UK hosted the Eurovision Song Contest in May and came second last with Mae Muller’s track I Wrote A Song, and former Ukip leader Nigel Farage popped up in ITV’s I’m A Celebrity… Get Me Out of Here! on which he came third.

Mr Farage – who was challenged on his views on Brexit and immigration during the ITV1 show – lost to former Made In Chelsea star Sam Thompson in the December final, which saw an average audience of 6.6 million tune in on the night.

This was down from the 10.1 million who saw former England footballer Jill Scott beat ex-health secretary Matt Hancock and Hollyoaks actor Owen Warner to win the show last year.