In the past, we’ve poked good-natured fun at Lorenzo di Bonaventura, the producer in charge of the “Transformers” franchise. The whole “There’ll be a sequel to Last Knight” / “There won’t be a sequel to Last Knight” thing had us all scratching our heads, wondering if the person holding the reigns knew where the horses needed to go. But the truth is, Lorenzo di Bonaventura is an experience producer, with ups and downs (like any professional), and with a remarkably fascinating history in the film industry. Let’s dive in, shall we?
What you have to understand first, though, is the role of the producer: basically, a film producer is the person in charge of getting the thing made. They’ll pull resources from wherever they need to, be it asking a favor from a friend, using a William Hill casino promotional code, begging, swapping or generally dealing. In short, he’s the guy who finds the person to bankroll a film, as well as getting the major players to play nicely together.
HERE’S AN INTERVIEW THAT CLEARLY SHOWS HOW IMPORTANT HIS ROLE IS WHEN CHOOSING DIRECTORS, OTHER CREW AND CAST
Our particular producer was born Lorenzo di Bonaventura in January of 1957, to Mario di Bonavenura (an symphony conductor) and his wife. A graduate of Harvard, he went on to get an MBA from Wharton, one of the most renowned schools of business in the States. After spending some time doing things outside of the film industry, he’d join Warner Bros. in the 90’s, eventually getting the top chair of the global production department.
While you may think that he’s a relative unknown, he’s the person responsible for making Warner invest in The Wachowskis’ “The Matrix”, a project riddled with doubts during pre-production, and one that saw Warner dominate the box office in 1999. Funnily enough, he’s also responsible for the acquisition of the rights to make the “Harry Potter” films from author J.K. Rowling. Clearly, the man has an eye for choosing projects that will net big bucks.
His own production company, named simply Di Bonaventura Pictures, has a track record that can be divided broadly into two categories since the mid 2000s: “Transformers” and horror films. Yep, you read that right. The man responsible for getting the team together for 2007’s “Transformers”, is also the guy who assembled the team behind the Keanu Reeves-led screen adaptation of “Constantine” in 2005, as well as “1408” (with David Cusack) and even indie sleeper hit “The Devil Inside” (2012), which is actually a personal favorite of mine. As you can see, he’s no stranger to the power of adapted screenplays: “Transformers” was of course adapted from the cartoon, and “Constantine” was adapted from a graphic novel. “1408”? That’s from a Stephen King book. And we did mention the “Harry Potter” franchise, didn’t we? Other adapted titles in his filmography include “RED” (adapted from a graphic novel) and the “G.I. Joe” films (much like “Transformers”, a franchise whose origins are in the toy industry).
PERHAPS NOT ONE OF HIS FAVORITE FILMS TO BE INTERVIEWED ABOUT
He has been, as you may or may not know, a producer on every single “Transformers” film since the 2007 opus eponymous directed by Michael Bay, a franchise that, by itself, has brought in almost US$5 billion for those involved. Add to that the “Harry Potter” universe (US$7.7 billion) and “The Matrix” trilogy (US$1.6 billion), and on three intellectual properties alone, he’s produced films worth over US$15 billion. According to our in-house room full of mathematicians, that is known as “a lot of money”.
So, yes: it’s easy to think that Lorenzo di Bonaventura is just some headless studio exec with more money than brains. But actually, he has a track record of getting together what’s necessary to create industry-changing franchises. The role of the producer is one that usually goes unnoticed and unappreciated, but much like Jason Blum is partially responsible for all the indie horror hits you know and love from the past decade and a half, Lorenzo di Bonaventura has been a part of major action franchises for years on end. While not every film he’s made has been a hit (be it financially, critically, or both), today, we honor the man whose hands are deep, deep in the dough that forms the delicious pie we know and love as the Transformers cinematic universe (and more).