Universal Chief Donna Langley Congratulates Studio on ‘Pinch-Me’ Oscars Triumph

Universal Pictures chairman Donna Langley congratulated her studio’s team after a triumphant Oscars Sunday in which Christopher Nolan’s “Oppenheimer” won seven Academy Awards, including Best Picture.

“It was a pinch-me moment for us,” the executive wrote in a Monday memo to employees obtained by TheWrap. “While the parties may be over, I am not done celebrating all of you.”

In addition to “Oppenheimer,” Universal’s specialty division Focus Features got in the win column with “The Holdovers,” with Da’Vine Joy Randolph winning for Best Supporting Actress for her performance as mourning school cook Mary Lamb.

“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,” she wrote.

“Oppenheimer” arrived at Universal after Nolan and his production company Syncopy ended a nearly two-decade partnership with Warner Bros. in 2021, beginning a fierce competition for the filmmaker’s next project. Universal landed the film after agreeing to commit $200 million in production and marketing spending towards the film and releasing the film in Nolan’s customary mid-July release slot with an extensive theatrical window.

“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,” Langley wrote. “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.”

After grossing $957 million at the global box office — making it the highest grossing Best Picture winner in 20 years — “Oppenheimer” took the awards circuit by storm, becoming the 11th film to win the top prize at the Producers, Directors and Screen Actors Guild Awards before taking the top Oscar.

The release of “Oppenheimer” also came just after the start of the SAG-AFTRA strike on July 14, which left Nolan alone to promote the film during the prime of its theatrical run until the strike ended in November. SAG-AFTRA officially called the strike in the middle of the “Oppenheimer” premiere in London, leading the film’s cast to walk out.

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

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