Lego has toyed with the idea of a movie for years, but wisely waited till it had all the right pieces. After stacking up $400 million and sparkling reviews, it was clear the plastic-brick makers did something right. "We know exactly how kids interact with the brand," says Jill WIlfert. Get ready for part two.
Anna Kendrick has come around. For the actress and firecracker personality, things started rolling when she turned to Reddit to learn the choreography to a song that would get her the part in Pitch Perfect. Now Cinderella in the upcoming Into the Woods, Kendrick's relatable charm has given her smart brand alliances, a full slate of movie roles, and ... one heck of a Twitter feed.
Michael Len Williams II, a.k.a. Mike Will Made It, is no stranger to easily recognized success. But after working with Rihanna and Kanye West, the producer turned to fledgling starlet Miley Cyrus. With his seasoned ear, her album Bangerz—and its central hit, "We Can't Stop," which he co-wrote—promptly shot up to No. 1.
In 2012, Jerry Seinfeld debuted his web show Comedians in Cars Getting Coffee, and that's just what it was. But it has become a lot more: 35 millions views and three seasons in, he's driving the creative Acura ads that frame each episode—miles away from his cable TV days. "The most fun game is one you've never played and you're inventing as you go along," he says.
With Frozen, Jennifer Lee became the first writer to work her way into the director's chair and the first woman to direct a Disney animated film—one that also put women in the spotlight. "It was a let's-try-to-be-fearless-and-see-what-happens kind of thing," she says. And what happened was something north of $1 billion.
As far as finding work in one's passion, Fleury Rose nailed it. The Brooklyn-based artist is putting her masterpieces on fingertips, setting off a craze picked up by the likes of fashion editors, Martha Stewart, and Nikki Minaj.
"It's young females, ages 13 to 30. They're silly and awkward and supersmart," says vlogger Grace Helbig of her fan base. She's made more than a name for herself with her confessional series, ItsGrace, and took charge (and ownership) of her content by moving her operations to YouTube late last year, taking 1.7 million subscribers with her.
The imaginative costumer behind the Game of Thrones series has inspired trends in the real-life fashion world at places such as Valentino and Helmut Lang, and yet she still manages to have a hand in other things too: film projects like Werner Herzog's Queen of the Desert and the Memento-like Before I Go to Sleep, out this fall.
Tim and Karrie League aren't much interested in the mainstream blockbusters. And it turns out a lot of other people want something more, too. Last year, their beer-slinging alt-cinema institution in Austin opened eight more theaters nationwide, and their distribution arm, Drafthouse Films, released the highest-grossing documentary opening of 2013. Add in expanded programming and the girly Forever Fest, and there's plenty to "ooh" and "aah" about.
Jenji Kohan's breakout hit Netflix series, Orange is the New Black, surprised everyone, even Kohan herself. But its success is no accident. Right down to the casting, she was deliberate in doing something fresh: "I love Los Angeles, but one side benefit of shooting in New York is casting. Here was this whole new pool of talent. It was an embarrassment of riches because I was looking for types that are underutilized."
For most, being in an iconic band would be enough. But not for Trent Reznor, who released the Nine Inch Nails album Hesitation Marks last year, and this year helped create streaming service Beats Music, alongside working on the score for Gone Girl and touring with NIN.
As King Bach can show you, a lot can happen in six seconds. Within a month of posting his first Vine, he netted a million followers and a deal with United Talent Agency. "A lot of Viners do more relatable stuff, but I try to stay away from that," he says. That's apparently the right strategy: Today his followers number six million and projects are in the works with Adult Swim and Showtime's House of Lies.