Having studied to be a cinematographer, Italian filmmaker Dino De Laurentiis was unable to secure a job in this line and had to settle for a series of menial jobs. When he finally made his full-fledged entry into the movie business at age 20, it was as a producer. World War II prevented De Laurentiis from attaining "boy wonder" status, but after the war he earned international recognition as producer of the neorealist classic Bitter Rice (1946). In partnership with director Federico Fellini in the early 1950s, De Laurentiis produced such films as La Strada (1954) and Nights of Cabiria (1956). When Fellini broke up the partnership, De Laurentiis decided to turn his back on Art and concentrate on Commerce. He produced several popular "spectaculars" of the era, with gladiators, slave girls and outsized battle sequences in abundance. He also set up his own motion picture production center, Dinocitta, as a rival to the long-established Cinecitta studio complex in Rome. A late-'60s slump in the Italian film industry compelled De Laurentiis to move to Hollywood, where he set about to produce self-styled "blockbusters"--often remakes of earlier films or rip-offs of popular genres. Hollywood reporters of the era enjoyed making fun of De Laurentiis's variable epics (and of his "cute" Italian accent), though with such hits as Barberella (1968), Death Wish (1973) and Three Days of the Condor (1975), the producer always had the last laugh. But the law of diminishing returns inevitably exercised itself upon De Laurentiis, and after a string of expensive disasters in the mid-'80s (notably 1984's Dune), his DeLaurentiis Entertainment Group filed for bankruptcy. The producer lost his Wilmington, North Carolina studios, which were then purchased by the Carolco Company. De Laurentiis died at age 91 in 2010.
Biography by Hal Erickson
- Father was a pasta maker.
- Studied to be a cinematographer.
- Produced first film by the age of 20.
- In the 1950s, joined fellow filmmaker Carlo Ponti to establish the production company Ponti-De Laurentiis. The company produced the venerated, Oscar-winning Federico Fellini films La Strada (1954) and Nights of Cabiria (1957).
- Created his own sprawling movie studio, Dinocitta, in the 1960s.
- Moved to the United States in the early 1970s after the failure of Dinocitta.
- In 2001, he received the Irving G. Thalberg Award at the Oscars for having "the most consistent high level of production achievement by an individual producer."
- Granddaughter is celebrity chef Giada De Laurentiis.