De Bont made his directorial debut with the action thriller Speed in 1994, which was a surprise hit. He followed this up with the even more successful Twister in 1996. His output since has had mixed commercial and critical success. In 1997, he returned to direct the sequel Speed 2: Cruise Control, which was a commercial and critical failure. In 1999, he directed The Haunting remake. It was a commercial success, but was heavily panned by critics, receiving five Razzie Award nominations and being widely considered one of the worst remakes in cinema history.
He was married to Dutch actress Monique van de Ven from 1973 to 1988. Monique starred in the 1973 film Turkish Delight, for which De Bont did the cinematography. De Bont has two children from his second marriage with Trish Reeves, Alexander (who had a part in Speed 2) and Anneke (who had a part in Twister).