Director David R. Ellis has died in Johannesburg, South Africa. The Snakes On A Plane helmer passed away suddenly early this morning Los Angeles-time, Deadline has learned. Ellis was 60 years old. Cause of death is not yet known. Ellis was in South Africa preparing to direct the film KITE. The director’s live-action adaptation of the 1998 Japanese anime was set to reunite Ellis with his Snakes star Samuel L. Jackson. Born in Los Angeles on September 10, 1952, Ellis started out in Hollywood as an actor and then stuntman and stunt coordinator. In 1986, Ellis moved on to second unit directing, helming the action sequences on films such as Waterworld, The Matrix Reloaded and Harry Potter And The Philosopher’s Stone. His first directing job was on the Disney film Homeward Bound 2: Lost In San Francisco in 1996. Final Destination 2 followed in 2003, with Cellular in 2004 and Snakes On A Plane in 2006. He went on to direct Asylum in 2008, The Final Destination in 2009 and Shark Night 3D in 2011. Ellis also did second unit directing on the upcoming Winter’s Tale starring Colin Farrell, Will Smith, Jennifer Connelly and Russell Crowe.
EXCLUSIVE: David R. Ellis is set to direct Sprawl, a horror thriller that Jason Blum’s Blumhouse is setting up to begin production early next year. The film is expected to go through Blumhouse’s deal with Universal, but that is still formalizing itself. Ellis, who last helmed Shark Night 3D, is repped by Paradigm and Principato Young. Jordan Goldberg & Alex Paraskevas wrote the script.
I’ve always gotten a kick out of Ellis’ movies in that there is a wink and a smile behind all the gore he serves up, from the severed arm that concludes Final Destination 2 to this classic line by Samuel L. Jackson in Snakes On A Plane: