Born in Budapest, Vajna immigrated to the U.S. in 1956. In 1976 he and partner Mario Kassar formed Carolco Pictures, which went on to produce a series of box office blockbusters throughout the 1980s and 90s, including the first three “Rambo” films, “Terminator 2: Judgment Day,” “Total Recall” and “Basic Instinct.”
He founded InterCom in Budapest in 1989. InterCom is the exclusive Hungarian distributor of theatrical releases from Twentieth Century Fox, Warner Bros. and Sony Pictures as well as DVD titles from Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment, Sony Pictures and Buena Vista Home Entertainment.
As film commissioner, Vajna introduced the Hungarian National Film Fund as part of a government restructuring of the country’s film funding system. Since its establishment, the fund, which has a current budget of $17.1 million a year, has granted production funding to more than 70 projects, including 20 international co-productions. Hungary is the second-biggest production hub in Europe after the U.K., with international producers attracted by the 25% tax rebate, the skilled crews and the modern production facilities.
Vajna, who enjoys a close relationship to Hungarian President Viktor Orban, has also expanded his own business holdings in Hungary in recent years. He not only managed to secure lucrative casino concessions in the country, but also purchased TV2, Hungary’s second-biggest commercial channel, last year thanks to a controversial $22 million loan from Eximbank, a state-owned import-export bank.