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After shepherding a record year at the box office, Universal Pictures chairman Donna Langley will be honored with the 2016 Pioneer of the Year award at CinemaCon in Las Vegas, the Will Rogers Motion Picture Pioneers Foundation announced Tuesday.
She is among only a handful of women to receive the top honor in recent years. Other recipients include Lucasfilm president Kathleen Kennedy and Sherry Lansing.
Langley, now in her third year as sole chairman of Universal, oversees all aspects of the studio’s production and marketing operations on the global stage, as well as Focus Features.
In 2016, Universal’s slate generated more than $6 billion in revenue at the worldwide box office, an industry record (the previous best was Fox in 2014 with $5.5 billion). The boom was led by Jurassic World, Furious 7 and Illumination Entertainment’s Minions, all of which crossed $1 billion, the first time three titles from one studio hit that milestone in a given year.
Other Universal hits last year included Fifty Shades of Grey, Pitch Perfect 2 and Straight Outta Compton.
Langley, who was named THR‘s Women in Entertainment Executive of the Year in 2015, is credited for reinvigorating and growing some of Universal’s most lucrative franchises, including the Fast & Furious and Bourne series.
Previous recipients of the Pioneer of the Year award, an industry tradition for over 70 years, include Cecil B. DeMille, Jack Warner, Darryl F. Zanuck, Jack Valenti, Terry Semel, Sumner Redstone, Alan Horn, Jeffrey Katzenberg and, last year, Jim Gianopulos.
Proceeds from the event benefit the Pioneers Assistance Fund (PAF), a charity that helps movie industry veterans who are encountering an illness, injury or life-changing event.
“We are extremely grateful that Donna has accepted the 2016 Pioneer of the Year Award and will be receiving this well-deserved honor,” said WRMPPF president and Fox president of distribution Chris Aronson. “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.”
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