De Laurentiis was one of the first producers to understand the box-office potential of foreign audiences, and helped invent international co-productions, raising money by pre-selling distribution rights outside North America. The Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences gave him the Irving G. Thalberg Memorial Award in 2001.
He began to move away from his base in Italy in the 1960s when the government changed the rules to mandate totally Italian productions to qualify for subsidies. He sold Dinocitta to the government in 1972. He relocated the studio in Wilmington, N.C., and dubbed his production company the De Laurentiis Entertainment Group.
The Oscar-winning “Serpico,” in 1973 with Al Pacino, was De Laurentiis’ Hollywood debut. Charles Bronson’s “Death Wish,” Robert Redford’s “Three Days of the Condor” and John Wayne’s last film, “The Shootist,” followed.
He often stayed loyal to young, talented directors, even though the results weren’t always strong. He made “Buffalo Bill and the Indians” with Robert Altman. Even after Michael Cimino’s huge flop “Heaven’s Gate,” De Laurentiis made “Year of the Dragon” and “Desperate Hours” with him. Despite the failure of “Dune,” he stuck with David Lynch and two years later produced the acclaimed “Blue Velvet.”
Lynch recalled him as having “more energy than ten people on PCP.”
“If something ever came up that required something to be done, Dino’s hand would in one millisecond go to the phone and deal with the thing, get the thing done,” said Lynch. “There’s maybe no rhyme or reason to what struck his fancy, but when he got it, he was just a pitbull.”
De Laurentis also continued to be a small factory for tackiness. Though he had earlier worked with revered filmmakers such as Victorio De Sica, Roberto Rossellini and Ingmar Bergman, some of his schlock included the plantation drama “Mandingo,” the horror film “Amityville II,” the cult comedy “Army of Darkness” and Madonna’s “Body of Evidence.”
“Dino always said you need three things in life: brains, heart and balls, and I hope I’ve exemplified that advice throughout my career,” Schwarzenegger, who credits De Laurentiis with his big break in movies, said Thursday in a statement.
Though flops like “King Kong” and “Hurricane” could be shaken off, personal tragedy took its toll. In 1981, his son Federico was killed in a plane crash. The strain of the loss helped end De Laurentiis’ marriage to Mangano. They were divorced in 1988, the same year De Laurentiis Entertainment Group went into bankruptcy, finished off by the flop of “King Kong Lives.”
De Laurentiis, close to 70, was undaunted and started over. Within two years, he had a new wife, 29-year-old Martha Schumacher, formed a new company and started producing moneymakers again.
“My philosophy is very simple,” he once said. “To feel young, you must work as long as you can.”
Survivors include three daughters with Mangano _ Rafaela, Francesca and Veronica _ and two with Schumacher: Carolina and Dina. Funeral arrangements have not yet been determined.
Associated Press writer Nicole Winfield in Rome, Colleen Barry in Milan, AP Television Writer Frazier Moore in New York and former AP writer Candice Hughes contributed to this report.
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