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The prolific producer died peacefully Tuesday night at a Los Angeles hospital surrounded by his loved ones, including members of his family and his company, his son, Sam, a Pressman Film vp production, told The Hollywood Reporter.
“He was working up until the last moment [and] insisted on speaking with London partners on the night before his passing,” he added in a statement. “We have a lot of work to do to honor him and bring to fruition the many projects he put himself into.”
The independent producer, known for financing films he loved and those other studios wouldn’t touch, helped bring close to 100 movies to the big screen. That includes The Crow, Conan the Barbarian, American Psycho, Bad Lieutenant and Plenty. He was also known for frequently working with notable Hollywood directors, including Stone, Werner Herzog, Kathryn Bigelow, Terrence Malick, Mary Harron and Rainer Werner Fassbinder, as well as repeatedly working with stars like Al Pacino, Robert Downey Jr., Jeremy Irons, Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone, Michael Douglas, Charlie and Martin Sheen and Jean-Claude Van Damme.
The industry maverick was described in a 1987 New York Times profile as “a pioneer among the new breed of producers that is stealing the spotlight from the Hollywood studios,” and worked with many of his collaborators at the start of their careers, discovering and fostering their talent.
The avid producer, whose career saw him backing indie, international and high-profile projects, frequently teamed with Stone, producing five different films for the director. That includes the 1987 drama Wall Street, which garnered Michael Douglas an Academy Award for best actor, and its 2010 follow-up Money Never Sleeps, to Warner Bros.’ 1981 Michael Caine psychological horror The Hand, based on Marc Brandel’s novel The Lizard’s Tail.
He would also co-produce with Stone on one of Bigelow’s earliest big-screen features, MGM and UA’s Blue Steel, the 1990 action-thriller led by Jamie Lee Curtis. Like his relationships with many directors, which spanned decades, he shepherded two of Brian De Palma’s better-known films — 1974’s Oscar and Golden Globe-nominated rock musical comedy horror Phantom of the Paradise and his 2008 Chloë Sevigny and Stephen Rea-starrer Sisters.
In the early ’70s, he would co-produce Malick’s directorial debut, the neo-noir crime drama Badlands, about a teen who goes on a killing spree and starring Sissy Spacek. While he worked regularly across nearly five decades, with a string of films in the past few years, his earliest credits as a producer were on three films back-to-back with director Paul Williams for Girl (1966), Out of It (1969) and The Revolutionary (1970).
Later on, he would produce Sam Raimi’s Crime Wave, the Sylvester Stallone-directed Paradise Alley, Steven de Souza’s Street Fighter and de Souza and William Wisher’s Judge Dredd, as well as Masters of the Universe and the original Crow film and its follow-up.
Pressman’s relationship with Harron began in the 2000s and would span two decades, producing her 2000 movie American Psycho, 2012’s The Moth Diaries and 2022’s Daliland — starring Ben Kingsley, Ezra Miller and Suki Waterhouse — which serves as one of his final credits. Other more recent projects include 2018’s Barry Levinson-directed Paterno featuring Al Pacino, Kathy Baker and Riley Keough and 2005’s Thank You for Smoking, directed by Jason Reitman.
In 1969, Pressman founded the production company Pressman Film and 40 years later began the process of housing his company holdings — more than 250 items including videotapes, theatrical prints and printing elements related to his productions and movies acquired by Pressman Films — with the Academy Film Archive. Paper materials covering the producer’s IP empire are housed at the Academy’s Margaret Herrick Library.
Born in New York on April 11, 1943, to toymaker parents Jack and Lynn Pressman, he married wife Annie McEnroe Pressman in 1983 after meeting her four years earlier during auditions for Stone’s The Hand.
In an interview in March, the producing legend spoke to plans for reviving successful IP and pursuing unproduced projects while confirming his love — as the industry ventures into new spaces like VR — of classic big-screen stories, telling IndieWire, “I still believe in the feature film as a standard that has lasted a long time and will continue.”
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