David R. Ellis, the man who directed Snakes on a Plane, a film that helped change the relationship between movie studios and the internet in a big way, has died unexpectedly in Johannesburg, South Africa. He was 60 years old.

The LA-born filmmaker made his way up through the Hollywood ranks in classic fashion, starting out as an actor and stunt man, then working as a stunt coordinator (To Live and Die in LA, Scarface, Patriot Games) and second unit director, holding that last title on films such as Waterworld, the first Harry Potter film, and The Matrix Reloaded.

Ellis eventually moved into directing, and made the best film in the Final Destination series: Final Destination 2, with that thrilling and horrific highway collision opening. He also directed films such as Cellular, Snakes on a Plane, and last year’s Shark Night 3D. He briefly went back to his second unit director role for Akiva Goldsman’s directorial debut, Winter’s Tale, with Colin Farrell, Will Smith, Jennifer Connelly and Russell Crowe. At the time of his death, Ellis was in South Africa prepping his live-action adaptation of the anime Kite, which would have reunited him with Snakes star Samuel L. Jackson. The cause of his death is unknown. [Deadline]

The latest film from Final Destination 2 and Snakes on a Plane director David R. Ellis is Shark Night 3D, which opens in theaters today. That makes this afternoon a good time to announce his next film, which will likely be a remake of the anime OVA Kite (aka A Kite), which was directed by Yasuomi Umetsu and released in 1998. Rob Cohen was doing to direct the live-action version at one point, but little has been heard about for some time. The story involves an orphaned girl who is coerced into sexual servitude and murder — in other words, don’t expect a direct translation in this live-action version. Read More »

First Look: ‘Shark Night 3D’

Here’s your first look at Sara Paxton being menaced by a shark in Shark Night 3D, which is directed by David R. Ellis. (He made Snakes on a Plane and the second and fourth Final Destination movies.) We don’t know much about the film, but I think we can reliably expect to see people getting chewed up by sharks, and this photo suggests exactly that. See the full thing after the break. Read More »


Anthony Mackie is in talks to join Man on a Ledge, the cop thriller that already has Sam Worthington on board. The story kicks off with “a female psychologist and a former NYPD officer who threatens to jump to his death,” which sounds pretty eh. But the potential suicide is a smokescreen to obscure a massive diamond heist. Wait, did you say ‘heist,’ and Anthony Mackie? OK, officially more interested.

Asger Leth is directing from a Pablo Fenjves script that is being rewritten by Erich and Jon Hoeber (Red). [Variety]

After the break, a great cast for a questionable sci-fi picture, and more potential shark victims go in the water. Read More »


Hayden Christensen has signed on to star in Snakes of a Plane/Cellular/The Final Destination director David R. Ellis‘ big screen adaptation of John Case‘s thriller novel The Genesis Code. Kevin Bernhardt, who wrote the screenplay for the 2006 film Peaceful Warrior, penned the adaptation.

The story follows a former national security expert, played by Christensen, who, while investigating the murder of his only sister and her young son, discovers that a religious sect called The Shadow of the Cross may be involved. With the help of his sister’s friend Ana, they follow the clues to a clinic in the mountains of Italy, where a terrifying secret experiment has been conducted – successfully. The results are so threatening to the foundation of the Church that they will do anything to keep it from being revealed.

Read the full press release after the jump.

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David R. Ellis has signed on to direct a film titled Shark Night 3D, which Deadline claims is aiming to be “Jaws for the 3D Generation”. You can’t help but get flashbacks to Jaws 3D with that statement. It always bothers me when Hollywood execs use Jaws as an example when they are clearly aiming to make a popcorn tentpole. The fact that “3D” is part of the film’s title ensures the movie will probably be more Deep Blue Sea than Jaws.
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David R. Ellis

Snakes on a Plane director David R. Ellis still has a career. After all, the internet cult movie idea turned box office flop wasn’t his idea. Ellis has been hired by former New Line Cinema executive Mark Ordesky to direct Humpty Dumpty. No, that’s not a typo, and no, this is not a new adaptation of the famous nursery rhyme (although it wouldn’t surprise me if Hollywood’s next target after toys and board games is nursery rhymes).

The science fiction horror film will be shot in 3D and tells the story of a half human, half-alien creature who “embarks on a murderous rampage after his alien mother is abused by two rednecks in the Deep South.” Ellis has worked with 3D before on Final Destination: Death Trip 3D.  The script is written by newcomer Billy Majestic, and production is scheduled to begin in September.  Intandem Films has picked up worldwide sales rights.

Ellis began his career in the mid-1970’s as a stuntman, transitioning into a second unit director in the early 1990’s. His directing credits include Homeward Bound II, Final Destination 2, Cellular and the direct-to-dvd horror film Asylum.

source: Variety