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Donna Langley, Universal’s Visionary

When Covid-19 struck, Langley released Trolls World Tour online, a move that earned the studio the ire of theater owners—and $100 million in streaming revenue.

Langley

Langley

Photographer: Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images

Langley has helped oversee some of Hollywood’s most successful franchises: Bourne, Minions, and The Fast and the Furious. This year she created a new category of film, “premium video on demand,” when she put the Trolls movie and The King of Staten Island, starring Saturday Night Live’s Pete Davidson, online for a $20 streaming fee when almost all U.S. theaters were closed. The chains wanted Universal to delay the releases; they didn’t like the precedent of new films with potentially big box offices going straight to video. Industry leader AMC Entertainment Holdings Inc. even said it would boycott future releases from the studio. Langley eventually struck a deal with AMC that reduces how long Universal has to wait to make films available to at-home audiences after they’re in theaters. (Other studios are seeking similar arrangements.) Langley intends to make premium video on demand Universal’s new release model.