Denise Di Novi, Movie Producer

By Victoria Chang, William Guttentag, Roderick Kramer
2007 | Case No. EM3
New York-born Denise Di Novi was a rare breed in Hollywood—She had become a high-powered and highly successful movie producer within a small elite “boy’s club” coterie while raising two sons and having a fulfilling family life. Despite the fact that 50-year-old Di Novi had reached the pinnacle in her field, the road had not always been easy. Raising two sons while being on movie sets for marathon 13+hour days, as well as nurturing a fruitful 19-year marriage with a husband also in the business, required an incredible amount of juggling. How she managed that hectic lifestyle was partly due to her choice not to “or out at night” or frequent the ubiquitous and swanky Hollywood parties or movie premiers unless the movie was made by a close friend. “I made the choice every early in my career not to get tangled into that whole seductive lifestyle, probably because I’m Italian and my family was always important to me and I grew up in a family of modest means so I didn’t want to stray too far from that,” Di Novi said. “Plus, I made that choice for my own sanity and for my kids—I think it’s bad for them, and I also felt that I wasn’t making movies for all these people at the premier, but rather the rest of the people who would actually go to see the movie. I want to stay in that world instead of hiring people to stay within that world.” Di Novi’s down-to-earth way of thinking and lifestyle has not only made her an anomaly within the high-flying tabloid-rich movie industry, but also has helped her to survive the cuts and bruises inherent to a job where a series of movie flops would get her “dropped” by a studio in a second. Ultimately, what she learned in a business where one could be a “genius and still fail” was: “No matter what business you’re in, the first thing you have to do is to learn how to deal with failure. The second thing is that you can never stop being grateful.” Such ways of thinking would certainly benefit Di Novi in a new world where movie studios increasingly demanded profitability amidst shrinking demand and new media alternatives.
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