Andy Vajna, a Hungary-born producer known for backing installments of top Hollywood franchises like Rambo and The Terminator before a later stretch working as a government commissioner, has died at age 74.
A cause was not specified, but Vajna’s death reportedly followed a lengthy illness.
Since 2011, Vajna had worked for Hungary’s prime minister, Viktor Orban, helping to revive the country’s film industry. In a Facebook post, Orban offered a brief tribute. “We are bidding farewell to the greatest Hungarian film producer,” he wrote. “Hasta la vista, Andy! Thank You for everything, my Friend!”
Vajna, along with producing partner Mario Kassar, was a longtime fixture at the Cannes Film Festival, helping to pioneer the strategy of securing star-driven international rights deals as the core financing for pricey tentpoles. Among Vajna’s dozens of producing credits are the first three Rambo films, Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines, Total Recall and Evita.
Vajna and Kassar led Carolco Pictures, a legendary independent production outfit in the 1980s and ’90s that backed Terminator 2, Basic Instinct and, disastrously, Cutthroat island. The company’s demise was followed by a sequel of sorts called C-2 Pictures.
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Arnold Schwarzenegger, who starred in several films produced by Vajna, tweeted his condolences. “He had a huge heart, and he was one of the most generous guys around,” he wrote.
Vajna was born in Budapest in 1944 but fled to Canada and then the U.S. around the time of Hungary’s 1956 revolution, which failed to liberate the Eastern European nation from control by Soviet-backed forces.
Among the Hungarian film projects Vajna championed in his later years was the Holocaust-themed Son of Saul, which won the Academy Award for Best Foreign-Language Film in 2016.
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