Inside Move: Slate expectations for Di Bonaventura

Pressure to produce weighs on ex-Warners pic maven

HOLLYWOOD — Lorenzo di Bonaventura must be breathing a little easier these days.

On Sept. 6, almost two years to the day that he ankled his post as Warner Bros.’ vice chairman and executive VP of motion pictures, di Bonaventura will go into production on his first title as a solo producer, Miramax Films’ “Derailed,” starring Clive Owen.

Since setting up shop on the Paramount lot 18 months ago and putting nearly twice that number of projects into development, the ex-Warners exec finally has a go project. (Di Bonaventura is also producing Warners’ upcoming Keanu Reeves starrer, the DC Comics adaptation “Constantine,” but that title was packed in golden parachute by his old Warners bosses.)

Some wondered whether Di Bonaventura was in danger of becoming one Hollywood’s phantoms, one of the Producers Who Doesn’t Produce.

But the lack of output certainly isn’t for lack of trying.

In addition to his current home, the former studio chief has also set up titles at 20th Century Fox’s New Regency, Dimension Films, Universal Pictures, Lions Gate Films and Revolution Studios, not to mention a number of indie projects as well as a few at his old Warners stomping grounds.

His development slate ranges from the Stephen King adaptation “1408” at Dimension (which may go early next year) to the vidgame adaptation “Doom.”

It stands to reason that former studio chiefs know more than the average producer about what it takes to create a go movie. So why does it often take so long to get their movies made?

For most, going from overworked production topper to overworked traveling salesman is a tough transition.

There’s former Fox Filmed Entertainment chairman and CEO Bill Mechanic, who has spent four years being this close to getting the coin that would make Pandemonium the production and financing machine of his dreams. (He’s currently producing his first feature, “Dark Water,” for Touchstone Pictures.)

And it took three years for former U chairman and CEO Casey Silver after his 1998 exit before he got his first greenlight — for Revolution’s “Gigli.” (Since then, Silver has also produced Touchstone Pictures’ “Hidalgo” and its upcoming fireman drama, “Ladder 49.”)

In any case, speed isn’t everything.

It only took former Sony Pictures Entertainment chairman Mark Canton 18 months to put his first film into production. Unfortunately, that title was Warners’ “Jack Frost.”

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