Entertainment

‘Monumental figure in film industry’ who produced Titanic and Avatar dies

Jon Landau, producer of Titanic and the Avatar films, has died at the age of 63.

Known as the long-time producing partner of James Cameron, the movie-making heavyweight is credited with helping to make three of the top four highest-grossing movies of all time.

His family announced his death on Saturday. No cause of death was given.

Lord Of The Rings director Sir Peter Jackson and his wife Fran Walsh, whose Weta FX company were behind the visual effects house for both Avatar films, led tributes to the producer.

“We speak for the entire Weta FX team when we say we are devastated by the loss of Jon Landau,” they said in a statement.

“Jon was not only a monumental figure in the film industry but also a cherished collaborator and friend.”

FILE - Jon Landau stands for a portrait at the 95th Academy Awards Nominees Luncheon, Feb. 13, 2023, at the Beverly Hilton Hotel in Beverly Hills, Calif. Landau, an Oscar-winning producer who worked closely with director James Cameron on ...Titanic" and the ...Avatar... series, has died, announced in a statement Saturday, July 6, 2024. (AP Photo/Chris Pizzello, File)
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Mr Landau is credited with helping to make three of the top four highest-grossing movies of all time. Pic: AP

They said Mr Landau brought “unparalleled passion to the projects he worked on” and his influence “will continue to inspire for years to come”.

“Our deepest condolences are with Jon’s family and loved ones, as well as Jim (Cameron) and the Lightstorm Entertainment team,” the statement said.

In a career that began in the 1980s and spanned decades, Mr Landau started work as a production manager and rose through the ranks to co-producer.

He co-produced hits such as Honey, I Shrunk the Kids in 1989 and Dick Tracy, starring Al Pacino and Madonna, in 1990.

Director James Cameron and Producer Jon Landau pose along with Sigourney Weaver and Stephen Lang during an event where they placed their handprints and footprints in cement at the forecourt of the TCL Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles, California, U.S., January 12, 2023. REUTERS/Mario Anzuoni
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Cameron and Mr Landau pose along with Sigourney Weaver and Stephen Lang in 2023. Pic: Reuters

At the age of 29, he was named an executive vice president of feature movies at 20th Century Fox, which led him to oversee major hits including Home Alone and its sequel, as well as Mrs Doubtfire and True Lies, where he first started working closely with Cameron.

Titanic, released in 1997 and starring Leonardo DiCaprio and Kate Winslet, was the first film to cross the $1bn (£781,500,000) threshold at the global box office.

It also went on to win 11 Oscars, including best picture at the 1998 awards.

Cameron’s 2009 film Avatar and 2022 sequel Avatar: The Way Of Water went on to top Titanic’s box office haul, grossing $2.9bn and $1.7bn at the global box office respectively, according to website Statista.

Joe Letteri, who was the visual effects supervisor on the Avatar films, said he was “heartbroken” at Mr Landau’s death.

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“He was an amazing and generous man, and a world-class film-maker who leaves a legacy that will last for generations,” he said in a statement.

“On behalf of all of us at Weta FX, it was an honour to work beside him. His dedication to the art of film-making inspired us every day. Our thoughts are with his family and loved ones.”

Mr Landau is survived by his wife of nearly 40 years, Julie, their sons, Jamie and Jodie and his two sisters and a brother.

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