Universal's Donna Langley named 'Pioneer of the Year'

Movies News

The Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers Foundation announced that Donna Langley, chairman of Universal Pictures, will receive the 2016 “Pioneer of the Year” honor on April 13 at CinemaCon in Las Vegas.

Since starting with Universal Pictures 15 years ago, Langley is now in her third year as the sole chairman of the film studio. She oversees all aspects of Universal's production and marketing operations worldwide, including the international production and acquisitions arm as well as the studio's specialty division, Focus Features. Under Langley's leadership, 2015 marked the highest-grossing domestic, international and worldwide box-office years, ever, in any studio's history. 

Langley has worked on some of the biggest hits ever to be released by Universal, including many of its franchises—the latest entries of which include Jurassic World, which had the second-biggest worldwide opening weekend in history and is currently the fourth-highest-grossing movie of all time, and Furious 7, which stands as the sixth-highest-grossing movie ever. 2015 also marked the first time any studio tallied three films to cross a billion dollars at the worldwide box office, with Furious 7, Jurassic World and Minions all reaching that milestone.

During her tenure with Universal, Langley has been a driving force behind some of the studio's biggest hits, including Fifty Shades of Grey, Neighbors, Les Misérables, Pitch Perfect, Ted, Bridesmaids, Mamma Mia!, Knocked Up and Wanted, among others. Langley is credited with reinvigorating and growing some of Universal's most lucrative and popular franchises including the Fast & Furious series, which has grossed more than $3.9 billion, and the Bourne series.

Langley was named The Hollywood Reporter's Executive of the Year in 2015 and has been regularly featured in its Top 100 Women in Entertainment issue. She has also been featured on Forbes’ "World's 100 Most Powerful Women" list.

Langley is a board member and ambassador for Vital Voices Global Partnership, an organization dedicated to mentoring women in developing countries throughout the world. She is on the advisory board of Chrysalis, a nonprofit organization dedicated to creating a pathway to self-sufficiency for homeless and low-income individuals by providing the resources and support needed to find and retain employment. Langley helped launch The Hollywood Reporter's Women in Film Mentorship program.

"We are extremely grateful that Donna has accepted the 2016 Pioneer of the Year Award and will be receiving this well-deserved honor," said Chris Aronson, president of WRMPPF and president of domestic theatrical distribution of 20th Century Fox. "She is a true Pioneer in our industry, demonstrating great leadership not only of her company but the community at large. We look forward to celebrating Donna's personal and professional accomplishments at CinemaCon 2016, as well as raising much-needed funds for the Pioneers Assistance program."

The Pioneer of the Year Dinner, an industry tradition for over 70 years, honors leaders of the motion picture industry and within the philanthropic community. Past honorees include Cecil B. DeMille, Jack Warner, Darryl F. Zanuck, Jack Valenti, Terry Semel, Sumner Redstone, Sherry Lansing, Alan Horn, Kathleen Kennedy, Jeffrey Katzenberg, Tom Sherak and the 2015 honoree, Jim Gianopulos. Proceeds from the event benefit the Pioneers Assistance Fund, an industry charity that helps individuals who work in theatrical entertainment, who are encountering an illness, injury or life-changing event.

The Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers Foundation operates the Pioneers Assistance Fund. For more information about the Pioneer of the Year Dinner or the Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers Foundation, call (888) 994-3863 or visit www.wrpioneers.org.