He’s on Fire

THE BUSINESSMAN

Starting From Scratch Climbing The Ladder

“I say volunteer for any job you can get, because it will lead to something else.” With a strong background under his belt, di Bonaventura started on the business side of things. That was fine as he was only just beginning to realize that the film industry was the only trade that excited him, and as his contemporaries were much younger, the odds were against him anyway. It didn’t take long, however, for him to shake things up.

Shortly after joining the team at Columbia pictures, changes were made (“heads were fired”), and the adjustments took him to the distribution side where he got involved in marketing. Under the regime of Dawn Steel, the first woman ever to run a major U.S. motion picture studio, di Bonaventura continued his steady, upward growth. Steel saw it in him. “She offered me a chief-of-staff position, but I wasn’t sophisticated enough [I thought], so I turned it down,” he says. Luckily for him, Steel persisted, and so he took off on the next leg of his journey. More turmoil within the studio led to more opportunities for our star, but the aspiration to be in a straight creative position was bubbling inside him like the raging river waters he once navigated. And like the heroine of one of his films, Dawn came to the rescue. A call to Lucy Fisher at Warner Brothers resulted in another leap, and one that after five and a half years under her direction ended with a presidential position. Great for some, of course, but when you’re Lorenzo di Bonaventura, the next adventure is always on the horizon.

In 2003, he formed a production company, di Bonaventura Pictures, based at Paramount Pictures; one that’s produced 12 movies to date, including Transformers, Transformers: Revenge Of The Fallen, Shooter, and G.I. Joe: Rise Of The Cobra. Most recently, di Bonaventura produced Salt for Sony Pictures. The spy thriller he explains, “meets its expectations for audiences through the lead—Angelina Jolie’s conviction, acting, and training. She was as lethal as Arnold.”

And really, that’s what it’s all about for him: meeting audience’s expectations. It’s a task that has become increasingly difficult in a world of fast, real time information.