Jon Landau, Oscar-winning 'Titanic' and 'Avatar' producer, dies at 63

Jon Landau, Oscar-winning 'Titanic' and 'Avatar' producer, dies at 63

LOS ANGELES: Jon Landau, an Oscar-winning producer who worked closely with director James Cameron on three of the biggest blockbusters of all time, “Titanic” and two “Avatar” films, has died. He was 63.

Landau's family announced his death Saturday. No cause of death was given.

Landau's partnership with Cameron led to three Oscar nominations and a best picture win for 1997's “Titanic.” Together the pair account for some of the biggest blockbusters in movie history, including “Avatar” and its sequel, “Avatar: The Way of Water.”

Cameron, in a statement, remembered “a dear friend, and my closest collaborator of 31 years." “A part of myself has been torn away,” said Cameron.

“His zany humor, personal magnetism, great generosity of spirit and fierce will have held the center of our Avatar universe for almost two decades,” said Cameron.

“His legacy is not just the films he produced, but the personal example he set — indomitable, caring, inclusive, tireless, insightful and utterly unique.”

Landau's career began in the 1980s as a production manager, and he gradually rose through the ranks, serving as a co-producer on “Honey I Shrunk the Kids” and “Dick Tracy.”

He took on the producer role on “Titanic,” Cameron's expensive epic about the infamous 1912 maritime disaster. The bet paid off: “Titanic” became the first movie to cross $1 billion in global box-office earnings and went on to win 11 Oscars, including best picture.

“I can’t act and I can’t compose and I can’t do visual effects, so I guess that’s why I’m producing.” Landau said while accepting the award with Cameron.

Their partnership continued, with Landau becoming a top executive at Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment. In 2009 the pair watched as “Avatar,” a sci-fi epic filmed and shown in theaters with groundbreaking 3D technology, surpassed the box-office success of “Titanic.” It remains the top-grossing film of all time.

Its sequel, “Avatar: The Way of Water,” is third on the list.

“Your wisdom and support shaped so many of us in ways we will always be grateful for,” Zoe Saldaña, one of the stars of the “Avatar” franchise, said in an emotional tribute on Instagram. “Your legacy will continue to inspire us and guide us in our journey.”

Landau has been a key player in the “Avatar” franchise, which saw frequent delays of the release of “The Way of Water.” Landau defended the sequel’s progress and Cameron’s ambitious plans to film multiple sequels at once to keep the franchise going.

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