Deadline confirmed that the director died in South Africa, during pre-production of "Kite," on Monday. The cause of death is unknown.
Before becoming a filmmaker, Ellis got his start as a stuntman on such flicks as "Smokey and the Bandit II," "Rocky III" and "Lethal Weapon." In the mid-80s he made the transition to behind-the-scenes work, leaving his mark on many movie action sequences, such as "The Matrix Reloaded" and "Harry Potter and the Sorcerer's Stone."
He began helming his own films in 1996, with "Homeward Bound 2" and in 2003 with "Final Destination 2." His most famous film, however, was the Samuel L. Jackson-lead "Snakes on a Plane," which quickly became a cult classic. Before his death, Ellis was to be reunited with Jackson in the movie "Kite."
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