‘Titanic’ & ‘Avatar’ Producer Jon Landau Dies at 63; James Cameron Pays Tribute: “A Part of Myself Has Been Torn Away”


Jon Landau, the esteemed Oscar-winning producer known for his work on Avatar, Titanic, and Alita: Battle Angel, among many other projects, has passed away in Los Angeles at the age of 63. He sadly departs following a 16-month battle with cancer.

Born on 23 July 1960 in New York, Jon Landau was the son of Edythe and Ely Landau, both prominent film and TV producers. Hollywood was in his veins, and his passion for cinema was nurtured from a young age. He studied at the USC School Of Cinematic Arts, graduating in 1983. He started his career with various behind-the-scenes roles, including production supervisor on Beat Street and Key Exchange, and production manager on films like F/X, Manhunter, and Making Mr. Right.

His sister, Tina Landau, confirmed the news on X, posting, “The best brother a girl could ever dream of — my brother Jon — has passed away. My heart is broken but also bursting with pride and gratitude for his most extraordinary life, and the love and gifts he gave me — and all who knew him or his films.”

By the late 80s, Landau had produced his first film, Campus Man, and co-produced Disney hits like Honey, I Shrunk The Kids and Dick Tracy. At just 29 years old, he became executive vice president of feature film production at Twentieth Century Fox, overseeing major films such as Home Alone, Die Hard 2, Mrs. Doubtfire, and Speed.

In 1993, Landau’s path intersected with James Cameron during the production of True Lies. This meeting sparked a dynamic partnership, leading Landau to join Cameron’s Lightstorm Entertainment. Together, they produced the blockbuster Titanic, which won 11 Oscars and became the first film to surpass the billion-dollar mark. Their collaboration continued with the groundbreaking Avatar and its sequel, Avatar: The Way Of Water.

As COO of Lightstorm, Landau was instrumental in creating Disney World attraction “Pandora — The World Of Avatar”. At the time of his death, he was actively involved in the production of the next three Avatar films.

James Cameron paid tribute to his friend and longtime colleague in a touching statement:

“The Avatar family grieves the loss of our friend and leader, Jon Landau. His zany humour, personal magnetism, great generosity of spirit and fierce will have held the center of our Avatar universe for almost two decades. His legacy is not just the films he produced, but the personal example he set — indomitable, caring, inclusive, tireless, insightful and utterly unique.

He produced great films, not by wielding power but by spreading warmth and the joy of making cinema. He inspired us all to be and to bring our best, every day. I have lost a dear friend, and my closest collaborator of 31 years. A part of myself has been torn away.”

Leonardo DiCaprio, who worked with Landau on Titanic, also honoured him:

“Jon was an incredibly kind, wise, and empathetic soul, who wanted to create nothing but a positive impact on anyone or anything approached. His legacy and leadership will live on forever. My condolences are with his entire family. Rest in peace; you will be deeply missed.”

Titanic star Kate Winslet shared the following to Deadline:

“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.”

Avatar star Zoe Saldaña was also among the many in Hollywood sharing their thoughts:

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. Your wisdom and support shaped so many of us in ways we will always be grateful for. The memories we shared together will always hold a special place in my heart. Your legacy will continue to inspire us and guide us in our journey. Rest in peace, dear Jon. You will be deeply missed.

Jon Landau’s films have grossed over $8 billion and won numerous awards, solidifying his legacy as a Hollywood legend.

He is survived by his wife Julie, sons Jamie and Jodie, and his siblings.