We have lost one of the most important movie producers of all time.
To film geeks of my generation, Dino's name was basically an opening-credits signal that you were about to see something unique, strange, not necessarily "good" but hard to forget: Danger: Diabolik!, Barbarella, Mandingo, Death Wish, King Kong/King Kong Lives!, Orca, Flash Gordon, Conan the Barbarian, Dead Zone, Dune, Cat's Eye, Manhunter, Army of Darkness... his career from the late-60s to the early-2000s speaks for itself; but he'd lived a lifetime before that.
He was a true independent - at once a profit-minded businessman and a bizzarely-visionary risk-taker with a love for garrish, overblown spectacle; an Italian renegade with the energy and style of a Golden Age Hollywood mogul. Along with his more infamous features, he also produced "art-films," war movies, historical epics and romances. He put big budgets and studio support behind a diverse selection of filmmakers from Ingmar Bergman to Frederico Fellini to Sam Raimi to John Milius to David Lynch. He backed John Wayne's last film, and produced the Wachowski Brother's first screenplay (AND their debut feature.) He brought us "Nights of Cabiria," "La Strada" and "Transformers: The Movie."
If pressed, I don't think anyone could name a modern equivalent to him in the current film world - that volatile mix of ruthless mogul businessman and art-lover of "questionable" artistic taste isn't much seen these days. In his ever-expanding producer role, Guillermo del Toro MAYBE comes close in terms of vision... but in terms of actual triumph it's likely we'll never see another like him.
De Laurentiis was 91, and lived a life the way one ought to be lived: Fully. He is survived by a small army of children and grandchildren, including Hollywood producer Raefella and Food Network personality Giada.