Multi-Oscar winner and movie production legend Dino De Laurentiis has died at the age of 91 on Nov. 10, 2010. Born Agostino De Laurentiis, Dino worked with some of the most famous actors in history. The list includes Al Pacino, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Anthony Hopkins, Jessica Lange, Harvey Keitel and Mathew McConaughey. His career in film as an actor and film producer spanned over 70 years.
De Laurentiis was also known for taking risks and dumped big budgets into box office and critical failures. His filmmaking career began in Italy and remained there until relocating to the United States in the 1970s. He is survived by his wife Martha, who is also a film producer, three daughters and grandchildren, many of whom carry on his filmmaking legacy.
Hollywood will sorely miss the De Laurentiis trait of being willing to take on risky projects. One such project starred an Austrian bodybuilder with little to no true acting credits. The project turned out to be “Conan the Barbarian,” and turned Arnold Schwarzenegger into a Hollywood icon.
Some of his movies that were box office blunders have survived to touch new generations. “Dune” has become a cult hit and even inspired a remake. De Laurentiis also showed that he wasn’t unwilling to touch a classic movie either. Although commonplace today, many studios were hesitant to remake older classics for fear of backlash from older fans who remembered the original, or rejection from newer fans who were from a different generation and therefore wouldn’t take well to the old film’s ideals. De Laurentiis tackled a Hollywood classic in “King Kong.” He remade the hit in 1976 to markedly mixed reviews and even did a sequel, “King Kong Returns,” which was such a failure that it forced his production company into bankruptcy.
De Laurentiis was a stylized and unique filmmaker who may have inspired other visionary filmmakers like Steven Spielberg, James Cameron and George Lucas. All of them have taken huge risks in their careers that have paid off. More visionaries like De Laurentiis are needed for today’s genre. Always playing it safe isn’t always the way to go.
I can recall watching “Flash Gordon” as a child and letting my imagination run wild as I played Flash or Zultan. I also remember watching “Conan” and taking my plastic toy sword and swinging it around as though I was the great barbarian. It is because of his vision and work-ethic that De Laurentiis was a great filmmaker, but it was his rebellious filmmaking style that made him a legend.