Universal Pictures Chairman Donna Langley gets contract extension

Universal Pictures Chairman Donna Langley, who assumed her post after Adam Fogelson was ousted from the position last fall, has had her contract renewed through 2017.

Her role at the Comcast Corp.-owned studio is also expanding. Langley, who currently oversees Universal’s production strategy and the studio's Focus Features division, will add international production and marketing, and domestic marketing to her portfolio.   

Financial terms of Langley's deal were not disclosed.

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Among Hollywood's most powerful female film executives, Langley had previously been co-chairman of Universal Pictures from October 2009 until September, when a dramatic shakeup rearranged the hierarchy of film executives at the Universal City studio.

In addition to Fogelson's departure, Universal Studios President Ron Meyer was made vice chairman of the studio's parent company, NBCUniversal; and longtime Comcast executive Jeff Shell was named the top film executive within the Comcast fold as chairman of the newly created Universal Filmed Entertainment Group.

Langley, 45, who has been with Universal since 2001, reports to Shell.

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“During the past five months, I’ve gotten to know Donna and together we’ve found a great working rhythm that is both comfortable and complementary,” Shell said in a statement. “She has terrific creative instincts and I’m continually impressed by the depth of her talent and filmmaker relationships, her experience and her work ethic. I’m thrilled to have her as my partner.”  

Universal had a strong 2013, finishing No. 3 in box-office market share after coming in fourth a year earlier, according to Box Office Mojo. The studio released hits including "Despicable Me 2," which has grossed $965 million worldwide, and "Fast & Furious 6," which took in $789 million globally.

However, the studio has hit rough patches over the last year, too, releasing high-profile flops "R.I.P.D." and "47 Ronin." The summer action-comedy "R.I.P.D.," which was budgeted at about $130 million, grossed $78 million worldwide. December's "47 Ronin," a Keanu Reeves-starring samurai epic, cost about $175 million to produce but took in $122 million globally. 

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Universal also delayed the release of "Fast & Furious 7" by nine months to April 2015 after the death of star Paul Walker in a car accident late last year.

The studio's Kevin Hart- and Ice Cube-starring buddy comedy "Ride Along," released Jan. 17, has been a surprise hit, grossing $75 million domestically.

Among Universal's high-profile forthcoming films is an adaptation of the bestselling erotic novel "Fifty Shades of Grey," which will be released by the studio in February 2015.

Langley is credited with spearheading the acquisition of the E.L. James-written "Fifty Shades of Grey" series.

“Donna is one of the finest all around motion picture executives I’ve ever known and I’m delighted she is getting this well-deserved extension and expanding her duties as Chairman,” Meyer said in a statement. “I’m confident that Donna and Jeff will continue to create long-term success for our film group and I’m looking forward to our ongoing collaboration.” 


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