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Film producer Andy Vajna dies, aged 74

The Hungarian-American had endured a long illness.

Andy Vajna (Zoltan Balogh/MTI/AP)
Andy Vajna (Zoltan Balogh/MTI/AP)

Andy Vajna, a Hungarian-American film producer who worked on several Rambo films with Sylvester Stallone and Madonna’s Evita, has died at the age of 74.

Vajna, who produced many other films, died on Sunday at his Budapest home after a long illness, Hungary’s National Film Fund said.

He was also owner of the TV2 Group, a Hungarian company that owns several television channels, including TV2, one of Hungary’s two main broadcasters.

It is aligned closely with Prime Minister Viktor Orban’s government.

“We are bidding farewell to the greatest Hungarian film producer,” Mr Orban posted on his Facebook page.

“Hasta la vista, Andy! Thank you for everything, my friend!”

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Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban paid tribute to Vajna (Szilard Koszticsak/MTI /AP)

Since 2011, Vajna had been a commissioner in the Orban government, in charge of developing Hungary’s film industry.

Hungarian films have won several top prizes at recent international festivals.

In 2016, Son of Saul, financed mostly by Hungary’s National Film Fund, won the Oscar for best foreign language film.

Vajna, who enjoyed a state-granted monopolistic concession on Budapest casinos, was recently listed by the Hungarian edition of Forbes magazine as the 18th richest Hungarian, with a net worth estimated at nearly 240 million US dollars (£186 million).

The producer was born Andras Gyorgy Vajna in Budapest on August  1 1944 and escaped Hungary’s communist regime in 1956 with help from the International Red Cross.

Following some time in Canada, he was reunited with his family in Los Angeles.

After studying at UCLA, Vajna operated cinemas in Hong Kong, where he also established a successful wig-making company.

In the mid-1970s, Vajna set up Carolco, a film production firm, with Mario Kassar.

Besides the Rambo series, the two men were also behind films such as Escape to Victory, starring Stallone, Michael Caine and Pele; Red Heat and Total Recall starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, and Angel Heart and Johnny Handsome with Mickey Rourke.

After leaving Carolco in 1989, Vajna’s films included Die Hard with a Vengeance, The Scarlet Letter, Nixon and I Spy.

He also produced several Hungarian films and was co-owner of Korda Studios, in the village of Etyek, near Budapest, where The Martian, Inferno and Hellboy II: The Golden Army were filmed.

Vajna is survived by his wife, Timea.

PA

From Belfast Telegraph