It’s Dame Donna Langley now.
The Universal Filmed Entertainment Group chairman, who is the first British woman to run a Hollywood studio, received her investiture from Prince Charles at Windsor Castle in England on Tuesday.
Langley first received a Dame Commander of the British Empire (DBE) title from Queen Elizabeth as part of the monarch’s 2020 New Year’s Honors List, but all in-person ceremonies were put on hold due to the pandemic. This week, the well-respected studio executive finally received her DBE in a ceremony with fellow honorees Tom Daley, the Olympic diver; Sir Chris Whitty, England’s chief medical officer; and Oliver Jeffers, the children’s book author and illustrator.
Langley — who has overseen the Jurassic World, Fast & Furious and Despicable Me franchises for Universal — called the experience “incredible” and said it “exceeded all expectations, just really being in Windsor Castle and walking through the rooms and seeing all the history was truly special.”
Sources tell Variety that Prince Charles, who is the heir to the British throne, had done his homework and asked relevant questions about the movie business as he chatted with Langley.
“We can see that the audience wants to go back to the cinema,” said the executive in a statement. “Streaming is great and there’s a place for it in all of our lives, but movies matter most when they get a nice big release in a theater globally and people all over the world can see them and talk about them. I just don’t think you can beat that, so I think theater is around for a while longer.”
No doubt Langley is riding high following the success of “Minions: The Rise of Gru,” which has so far amassed $412 million at the global box office and sparked the rise of the formidable #Gentleminions — a viral TikTok trend in which droves of teenagers have suited up to go and see the movie.
On Tuesday evening, Langley was joined by senior Universal executives — all of whom are in town for an annual town hall in London this week — and a select group of media at a reception at Claridge’s hotel in Mayfair. The executive was later photographed having dinner with “Top Gun: Maverick” star Tom Cruise.
Universal and Cruise are in the works on a $200 million action-adventure space movie that will be partially shot on the International Space Station.
Another major project on the horizon for Langley and Universal is Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer,” the script for which the executive called “phenomenal.”
“He makes films that are undeniably theatrical,” Langley said of Nolan during a panel discussion at SXSW in March. “We really focus and strive to create an environment for filmmakers where they can do their best work and minimize the friction and noise, and complement their film with an excellent distribution and marketing campaign.”
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