Avatar's James Cameron pays tribute as Jon Landau passes away aged 63

james cameron and jon landau stand smiling at the camera
James Cameron's tribute as Jon Landau passes awayAxelle/Bauer-Griffin - Getty Images

Titanic and Avatar producer Jon Landau has died at the age of 63, it has been confirmed.

Landau, who was a longtime producing partner to director James Cameron, passed away on July 5 from cancer, Deadline reports.

The Academy Award-winning producer worked on three of the top four highest-grossing movies of all time, having overseen 1997's Titanic, 2009's Avatar and 2022's Avatar: The Way of Water break box-office records.

During his career, Landau also worked on movies including Alita: Battle Angel, Solaris and Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. Before joining forces with Cameron and becoming Chief Operating Officer at his Lightstorm Entertainment, Landau was an executive at 20th Century Fox. Prior to his death, he had been working on the upcoming Avatar sequels, with Avatar 3 expected to be released in 2025.

los angeles, california january 13 jon landau attends the afi awards luncheon at four seasons hotel los angeles at beverly hills on january 13, 2023 in los angeles, california photo by kevin wintergetty images
Getty Images

Now, his producing partner James Cameron has paid tribute to his friend and co-worker of 31 years in a lengthy statement to The Hollywood Reporter, describing them as "brothers in arms".

"A great producer and a great human being has left us," he began. "Jon Landau believed in the dream of cinema. He believed that film is the ultimate human art form, and to make films you have to first be human yourself. He will be remembered as much for his vast generosity of spirit as for the movies themselves."

Reflecting on how their working relationship began, Cameron said: "When I met him, he was the studio 'suit' assigned to oversee True Lies in 1993. In the midst of the logistical nightmare of that production we came to respect and enjoy each other. A bond forged in fire. I lured him away from Fox to join my production company, Lightstorm, and together we then tackled Titanic, a production as ambitious and seemingly ill-fated as the ship itself. Jon bore the brunt of the studio pressure and gave his all to provide the time and resources for me to make the film I saw in my head. From that we became brothers in arms."

Then their next great adventure, Avatar, to which Cameron attributed Landau as being the "heart" of the family of cast and crew: "Jon gave his all, and never lost faith that we were doing something extraordinary and that we would somehow prevail. In the process we not only made a film, we forged a family. Jon was the heart of the Avatar family, with his humor, generosity and enormous capacity to make people feel valued and 'seen'. He gave everyone a sense of purpose and belonging. And this continued through the making of the sequels. It is impossible to convey how much our tight knit group will miss this man, this force of nature… the center of gravity of our little bubble universe."

He concluded: "I am grateful for every year, every day, every minute we had together. I am grateful for the belief he had in me and what his partnership allowed us to accomplish together. A part of myself has been torn away. But the amazing team he assembled and led still remains, and we will dedicate ourselves to fulfilling Jon's legacy. Not just the films yet to come, but the love and connection that binds the Avatar and Lightstorm family together."

Avatar star Zoe Saldaña also paid tribute to Landau on Instagram, as she shared a series of photos of the producer and wrote: "Dear Jon, Words are hard to put together right now, your passing is hitting really hard. You are leaving us too soon, my thoughts are with you and your family right now."

She added that "the memories we shared together will always hold a special place in my heart" and "your legacy will continue to inspire us and guide us in our journey".

Titanic star Kate Winslet shared a heartfelt message with Deadline in response to the sad news: "Jon Landau was the kindest and best of men. He was a man who was rich with compassion and exceptional at supporting and nurturing teams of phenomenal creative people. His strength in life was knowing the importance of family, at home and at work. He was always full of smiles and gratitude. I can't believe I am writing this, can't believe he is gone."

jon landau, a man stands smiling, he has grey hair and beard, he wears a black suit with floral tie
Kevin Winter - Getty Images

Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson also shared a joint statement with screenwriter Fran Walsh with Deadline, in which they said they were "devastated" by Landau's passing.

"Jon was not only a monumental figure in the film industry but also a cherished collaborator and friend," they said. "Jon brought unparalleled passion to the projects he worked on and his influence will continue to inspire for years to come."

Alan Bergman, Co-Chairman of Disney Entertainment, told Deadline that Landau was "a visionary whose extraordinary talent and passion brought some of the most unforgettable stories to life on the big screen".

"His remarkable contributions to the film industry have left an indelible mark, and he will be profoundly missed," Bergman continued. "He was an iconic and successful producer yet an even better person and a true force of nature who inspired all around him."

You Might Also Like