And so ends a controversial, but influential career.
De Laurentiis is certainly a divisive and polarizing figure. His vast resume is clear, and his financial input has led to many successful films, even some cult classics. He's certainly well known for the many fantasy, science fiction and action-packed movies. However, his infamous creative ideas have resulted in cinematic disasters like Dune, Orca, the first remake of King Kong and... well, let's just say his films' quality is all over the map.
Conan the Barbarian may well have suffered a similar fate if de Laurentiis had his way, with rumours of his desire for a pop soundtrack instead of Poledouris' phenomenal score scaring the bejeezus out of me. Luckily, John Milius isn't the sort of guy to kowtow to Hollywood types - unluckily, it means he wasn't asked onboard for Conan the Destroyer, and Richard Fleischer seemed a lot more likely to adopt de Laurentiis' ideas. What we got was a more family-friendly Conan - one that Roger Ebert seemed to advocate and even prefer over Conan the Barbarian - and arguably, one that led to the crashing halt of the Conan film franchise. Then Red Sonja came along and soured Arnold on the very idea of doing new Conan movies.
It seems unfair to discuss the "warts and all" aspect of a man after his death, but in my mind, it just showed how powerful and influential he became. He could make or break a film based on his input. Sometimes his gambles paid off, sometimes they didn't: sometimes a film benefitted from his input, sometimes it didn't; sometimes he backed off and let a director do his thing, sometimes he didn't.
Whatever one thinks of the man's handling of beloved franchises like Dune, King Kong and, yes, Conan, it is clear that de Laurentiis had a part in the creation of some truly fantastic films. Not only the magnificent, flawed, infuriating Conan the Barbarian, but the likes of Manhunter, Death Wish, Blue Velvet, Serpico, and others. Truly a remarkable career.