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Universal’s Donna Langley Thanks Team For Oscars “Pinch-Me Moments” After ‘Oppenheimer,’ ‘Holdovers’ Wins

After ringing in Monday celebrating Universal’s Oscar wins, led by Christopher Nolan’s Oppenheimer, Donna Langley sent congratulatory note thanking all of those on her team who helped make the victory possible.

Oppenheimer picked up seven wins, including best picture and best director (Nolan’s first), while Focus Features’ The Holdovers won best supporting actress for Da’Vine Joy Randolph’ performance. The evening was a big win for Langley, who lured Nolan to the studio after he split ways with Warner Bros., and made a bet on his R-rated biopic.

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“I hope you are all still reveling in what we accomplished last night. Eight total Academy Award wins for Universal and Focus Features! It was a pinch-me moment for us — well, eight pinch-me moments,” Langley wrote. Last year, the longtime Universal movie chief expanded her power base exponentially when named NBCUniversal’s chief content officer.

Oppenheimer, which has grossed nearly $960 million globally, upended the traditional order Sunday night when it won best picture, making it the top-grossing best picture winner since The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King in 2004. Oppenheimer was also the first best picture winner in more than a decade to earn north of $100 million at the domestic box office since Ben Affeck’s Argo, which earned $136 million domestically and $232.3 million globally. In her note, Langley recalled meeting with Nolan and Emma Thomas, his wife and producing partner.

“It [all] started with a visit to Chris and Emma’s home, back in 2021. Reading the script for Oppenheimer in Chris’s office, I was mesmerized as one of the most impactful moments in history felt overwhelmingly resonant today,” wrote Langely. “Soon after, our entire Film group — and the entire company — rallied around this piece. From production to marketing to distribution, MSNBC to Peacock to our full Symphony effort, our teams came together to share this story and show what makes this company unique.”

Oppenheimer delivered Nolan his first Oscars, and it matches Universal’s record for seven Oscar wins for a single film (tied with Out of Africa, Schindler’s List and The Sting).

For Universal, the best picture win is a return to the podium after it took home the honor for Green Book five years ago. The last time the studio won best picture twice in the span of just five years was for The Sting in 1974 and The Deer Hunter in 1979. It is now also the only legacy studio to win best picture over the past decade. And — interesting factoid — Oppenheimer becomes the first film to win Oscars for picture, actor and supporting actor since Ben-Hur 64 years ago.

“While the parties may be over, I am not done celebrating all of you. First off, a special thank you to the teams at Universal and Focus who expertly navigated a complex and competitive awards season,” wrote the executive. “Even with added pressures and unexpected challenges, you ran this marathon flawlessly and didn’t let up until we crossed the finish line.”

Continuing she wrote, “when we widen the aperture to consider everything we’re celebrating — the grandest epics to artful features to beloved animation and franchises — this weekend is bigger than winning; it demonstrates what we do best. Thanks to you, and all your hard work, we are the home for forward-thinking films and filmmakers whose work resonates with audiences all over the world. Congratulations on this historic accomplishment. It is a privilege to work alongside each of you. Please take some time to enjoy this moment!”

Below read Langley’s note in full:

I hope you are all still reveling in what we accomplished last night.

Eight total Academy Award wins for Universal and Focus Features! It was a pinch-me moment for us — well, eight pinch-me moments.

While the parties may be over, I am not done celebrating all of you.

First off, a special thank you to the teams at Universal and Focus who expertly navigated a complex and competitive awards season. Even with added pressures and unexpected challenges, you ran this marathon flawlessly and didn’t let up until we crossed the finish line.

Last night was a culmination of all your work, and a journey that began long before the premieres or the press tours, the after parties or the after-after parties.

It started with a visit to Chris and Emma’s home, back in 2021. Reading the script for Oppenheimer in Chris’s office, I was mesmerized as one of the most impactful moments in history felt overwhelmingly resonant today. Soon after, our entire Film group — and the entire company — rallied around this piece. From production to marketing to distribution, MSNBC to Peacock to our full Symphony effort, our teams came together to share this story and show what makes this company unique.

We’re also fortunate to celebrate not just one but TWO Academy Award-winning films this morning.

To the team at Focus, you continue to be the best at what you do — to find those deeply human stories that leave massive marks on our hearts like The Holdovers, and make us want to send thank you notes to our favorite teachers.

While this weekend was a celebration of what we’ve achieved in 2023, it’s also another moment to get excited about 2024. Look no further than the stellar opening weekend for DreamWorks’ Kung Fu Panda 4 that opened No. 1 at the domestic box office with $58 million and earning $81.7 million globally to date. The extraordinary team at DreamWorks has reinvigorated one of its most iconic characters behind the incomparable Jack Black, making this the year’s first big animated hit.

When we widen the aperture to consider everything we’re celebrating — the grandest epics to artful features to beloved animation and franchises — this weekend is bigger than winning; it demonstrates what we do best. Thanks to you, and all your hard work, we are the home for forward-thinking films and filmmakers whose work resonates with audiences all over the world.

Congratulations on this historic accomplishment. It is a privilege to work alongside each of you. Please take some time to enjoy this moment!

With gratitude, Donna

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