'Rambo' producer Vajna dies aged 74

FILE PHOTO: Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger (L), star of the futuristic action thriller "Terminator 3 Rise of the Machines" poses with the film's producers Mario Kassar (C) and Andrew Vajna (R) at the film's premiere in Los Angeles June 30, 2003. REUTERS/Fred Prouser/File Photo

BUDAPEST (Reuters) - Andrew G. Vajna, the Hungarian movie producer behind “Rambo”, “Evita” and other international hits, died in his Budapest home on Sunday following a long illness, the Hungarian National Film Fund said.

Vajna produced 59 films in all, including the 1996 Evita starring Madonna and Sylvester Stallone’s first three Rambo movies.

He was born in Budapest in 1944 and at the age of 12, when Hungary’s 1956 revolution against Soviet rule was crushed, he fled the country and emigrated to Canada with the help of the Red Cross. He was reunited with his family in Los Angeles.

His 1997 comedy, based on a play titled Out of Order by English playwright Ray Cooney, holds the record for ticket sales among Hungarian movies produced over the past two decades.

Since 2011, he had worked as a government commissioner under Prime Minister Viktor Orban, presiding over a revival of Hungarian cinema.

“We are bidding farewell to the greatest Hungarian film producer. Hasta la vista, Andy! Thank You for everything, my Friend!” Orban said on his Facebook page.

Movies during his term as commissioner won hundreds of international awards. They included “Son of Saul”, which won an Oscar for its portrayal of life in a Nazi concentration camp.

As part of Orban’s efforts to expand his influence over the domestic media, Vajna also acquired one of Hungary’s main commercial television channels and had stakes in the commercial radio market.

Reporting by Gergely Szakacs; editing by John Stonestreet