Universal Pictures Chairman Donna Langley will receive the 2016 Pioneer of the Year from the Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers Foundation, the organization announced Tuesday.
The honor will be presented at the Pioneer of the Year dinner on April 13 at CinemaCon in Las Vegas. An industry tradition for over 70 years, the event honors leaders of the motion picture industry and within the philanthropic community.
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.
“We are extremely grateful that Donna has accepted the 2016 Pioneer of the Year Award and will be receiving this well-deserved honor,” said foundation president Chris Aronson, who is president of domestic theatrical distribution at 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.”
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. This year 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,” “Unbroken,” “Neighbors,” the Academy Award-winning “Les Misérables,” “Pitch Perfect,” “Ted,” “Bridesmaids,” “Mamma Mia!,” “Knocked Up” and “Wanted.” 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 “Bourne” series.
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. She is a voting member of the British Academy of Film and Television Arts and the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences, and she serves on the Board of Trustees for the American Film Institute.
Proceeds from the dinner benefit the Pioneers Assistance Fund, which helps individuals who work in theatrical entertainment, who are encountering an illness, injury or life-changing event.
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.