Beijing will make history next year by becoming the first city to host both the Summer and Winter Olympic and Paralympic Games. But that’s not the only title government leaders are out to claim: They also want to make them the greenest. Using its 2022 Olympic and Paralympic Winter Games Sustainability Plan to guide decisions, the Beijing Organising Committee is vowing to address sustainability from all angles: creating a positive environmental impact through renewable energy, forestation and wildlife protection projects, as well as delivering new development that will improve people’s lives and bring lasting benefits.
6th Most Influential Project of 2021
Between pandemic-era tour cancelations and streaming services and recording companies keeping the lion’s share of profits, musical artists could use some new revenue streams. So when the internet started losing its mind over nonfungible tokens (NFTs), Kings of Leon didn’t miss a beat, partnering with NFT marketplace YellowHeart to become the first major musical act to offer an album in the format. The Kings of Leon project took on new dimensions in September: The crew of SpaceX Inspiration4, the first all-civilian mission to orbit, made the band’s “Time in Disguise” the first NFT song to be played in space and then auctioned off for charity.
8th Most Influential Project of 2021
Netflix’s sultry period drama Bridgerton captivated 82 million viewers around the world within the first months of its December debut. But the show also made quite the fashion statement, a delightfully frothy treat arriving at a time when even the most diligent fashion followers were sticking to track suits and sneakers. Delivering that kind of style required a massive wardrobe creation and curation project. A team of more than 200 people created 5,000 costumes as well as 2,500 accessories such as hats and overcoats. The visual feast satisfied not only viewers, but critics, too, with the show earning an Emmy nomination for outstanding period costumes.
25th Most Influential Project of 2021
Not even megawatt entertainment titan Universal Studios was exempt from pandemic-induced losses, with revenue at its parks plummeting 69 percent in 2020. But the company forged ahead—and navigated major delays—to deliver the JPY60 billion Super Nintendo World in Osaka in March. The collaboration between Universal and Nintendo brings the Japanese gaming legend’s franchises to life with interactive, high-tech surprises—a strategy the team devised to draw in visitors from around the world and test out new gamified practices for other locations. The Osaka site marks the first of four Super Nintendo-themed projects, with additional parks planned for the U.S. and Singapore.
Taylor Swift’s eighth studio album arrived unexpectedly, but somehow just at the right time. It was July 2020—when the singer-songwriter had planned to kick off a tour to promote songs from the album she’d released the year before. But once the pandemic hit and she realized that wasn’t likely to happen, Swift headed to the studio, working in isolation with production partners, musicians and her creative team to bring the secret project to life. Within a week of its surprise drop, the album racked up over 80 million Spotify streams. And with those kinds of numbers—and rave reviews—it could be the start of a new creative process.
Twenty dancers. 28 crew members. 35 costumes. 600 pairs of pointe shoes. Six sleeper buses. Three production trucks. It was a whole lot to wrangle, but largely unable to dance indoors and creatively stymied by the limitations of performing virtually, American Ballet Theatre hit the road. Going “beyond the digital divide,” as company leaders called it, the dance troupe scheduled a string of nine socially distanced outdoor shows spread out across 15 U.S. states in July. Planned with the precision of the perfect pirouette, the 50-minute performances took place on a custom-built stage that folded out of an 18-wheeler truck.
Co-produced by South African platform Showmax and French TV production house CANAL+, the eight-episode Crime and Justice tackles tough topics like domestic violence and femicide. But what truly sets this project apart? This is African content for African audiences. Adam Neutzsky-Wulff, a series co-creator and director, says in developing the project, it was important “to have some stories where Kenyans could reflect themselves.” The potential is huge: Streaming video content across the continent is expected to grow at 5 times its current rate to reach 13 million subscribers by 2025.
Lewis Carroll’s classic Alice in Wonderland is a pretty trippy tale. So it seems only fitting that an exhibit devoted to the book would double-down on the sensory overload for a tumble down the rabbit hole. Along with the mind-bending exhibit that opened in May at London’s Victoria and Albert Museum, project leaders also unveiled Curious Alice, the org’s first virtual reality experience. Created in partnership with tech company HTC Vive Arts and produced by games studio Preloaded, the experience uses Icelandic artist Kristjana Williams’ commissioned illustrations to thrust players into a curious world full of psychedelic mushrooms, mind-bending riddles and croquet games against the Queen of Hearts.
Yet another space race is blasting off. In May, Russia announced plans to become the first nation to shoot a movie in space by sending an actress and a director to the International Space Station. The film is a collaboration with Russian space agency Roscosmos, Channel One and production studio Yellow, Black and White. In preparation for the project, titled Vyzov (The Challenge), the film’s duo (and understudies) underwent rigorous training, including training flights in zero gravity and parachute training. The team aims to be ready for takeoff in October, in a bid to beat out Tom Cruise’s forthcoming unnamed space flick created in collaboration with SpaceX.
When COVID-19 blocked American football fans from live events and local viewing parties, U.S. telecom giant Verizon came up with the ultimate defensive play. Back in 2017, the wireless network operator paid US$2 billion for the rights to livestream all National Football League games via any U.S.-based mobile device for five years. So in 2020, the team pivoted and joined forces with Yahoo Sports to build a platform for digital viewing parties, allowing fans to virtually gather, socialize and experience instant replays in augmented reality. The launch made Verizon the first company to bring native video chat to livestreams for a major sporting event.