David R. Ellis

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David R. Ellis
David R. Ellis.jpg
Born David Richard Ellis
(1952-09-08)September 8, 1952
Santa Monica, California, U.S.
Died January 7, 2013(2013-01-07) (aged 60)
Johannesburg, South Africa
Occupation Film director, second unit director, stuntman
Years active 1978–2013

David Richard Ellis (September 8, 1952 – January 7, 2013) was an American film director and stuntman born in Santa Monica, California in 1952.


Following a successful career as a junior pro surfer, David Richard Ellis began his career in the film industry as a supporting actor in juvenile roles making his big screen debut in 1975 in the Kurt Russell film The Strongest Man in the World. In 1978, he received a promotion to stunt coordinator on The Invasion of the Body Snatchers. After several successful years in this position, he worked from 1986 onwards as a second unit director before making his debut as a director in the Disney live-action film Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco. He is best known for directing two of the Final Destination films and the 2006 film Snakes on a Plane, which became an Internet phenomenon.[1][2]

As a stunt man he was best known for his work in the movie Scarface. Other notable works as a stunt man include Fatal Attraction, Lethal Weapon, the television series Baywatch, and Patriot Games. As a second unit director he worked on a number of well-known movies that most recently include Harry Potter and the Philosopher's Stone, The Matrix Reloaded, Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World, and Cop Out. At the time of his death, two works involving Ellis were still in post-production: 47 Ronin and R.I.P.D.; another, Winter's Tale, was still being filmed. R.I.P.D. was released in July 2013; 47 Ronin was released in December 2013, while Winter's Tale was released in February 2014.

He was perhaps best known as a director with seven titles under his belt. Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco, Final Destination 2, Cellular, Snakes on a Plane, Asylum, The Final Destination, and Shark Night. At the time of his death, he was in pre-production for a live-action version of the violent anime Kite.[3][4] Ralph Ziman became the film's director.

Ellis was nominated for the Taurus Award along with Glenn Boswell and R. A. Rondell in 2003 for his stunt coordination work on The Matrix Reloaded.[citation needed]

Personal life[edit]

David R. Ellis was the father of producer Tawny and photographer Cheyenne Ellis. He was the son of Richard and Andrea Ellis, the grandfather to Kodiak and Ridge Ellis, as well as the brother of Annie, Lori, and Chenoa Ellis. He is survived by his wife Cindy.

When Ellis was once about to be carjacked, trapped between two other cars, he used his stunt-driving prowess to whip his car out of the tiny gap and face the carjackers, revving his engine, scaring them enough to get back into their cars and drive away.[5]


On January 7, 2013, Ellis's body was found in the bathroom of his hotel room[6] in Johannesburg, South Africa. He was preparing to direct Kite at the time.[7][8] No cause of death has been released, however, police say no foul play was suspected.[9]



Year Film Budget Worldwide gross
1996 Homeward Bound II: Lost in San Francisco $32,772,492 (USA)
2003 Final Destination 2 $26,000,000 $90,426,405
2004 Cellular $25,000,000 $56,422,687
2006 Snakes on a Plane $33,000,000 $62,022,014
2008 Asylum $11,000,000 Direct-to-video
2009 The Final Destination $40,000,000 $186,167,139
2011 Shark Night $28,000,000 $40,136,479


  1. ^ Gilbey, Ryan (9 January 2013). "David R Ellis obituary". London: The Guardian. Retrieved 19 January 2013. 
  2. ^ Dargis, Manohla (2006-08-19). "Snakes on a Plane". The New York Times. 
  3. ^ Kit, Borys. "David R. Ellis, Director of 'Snakes on a Plane,' Dies at 60". The Hollywood Reporter. 
  4. ^ http://www.deadline.com/2013/01/r-i-p-david-r-ellis
  5. ^ Smodcast.com
  6. ^ "David R Ellis". People Magazine. Retrieved 19 January 2013. 
  7. ^ Kit, Borys. "David R. Ellis, Director of 'Snakes on a Plane,' Dies at 60". The Hollywood Reporter. 
  8. ^ http://www.deadline.com/2013/01/r-i-p-david-r-ellis
  9. ^ "SNAKES ON A PLANE' DIRECTOR DAVID R. ELLIS DIES". AP. Retrieved 8 January 2013. 

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