Imax Space Doc Director Toni Myers Dies at 75

Toni Myers at IMAX theatre with A Beautiful Planet on-screen-H 2019
Courtesy of Imax Corp.

NASA astronauts, trained by Myers to use Imax cameras to send back images from space, paid tribute to the director of 'Hubble 3D' and 'A Beautiful Planet.'

Toni Myers, the Imax director of A Beautiful Planet, narrated by Jennifer Lawrence, and Warner Bros.' Hubble 3D and Space Station 3D, has died. She was 75.

Myers died Monday at home in Toronto following a bout with cancer first diagnosed in October.

"For 25 years, I was fortunate to call Toni a dear friend and I know I echo the same sentiment as anyone who has crossed paths with Toni when I say she was truly one-of-a-kind and will greatly be missed," Imax CEO Richard Gelfond said Tuesday in a statement.

"Toni’s incredible contributions to Imax’s legacy and the world of film are only matched by her passion, kindness and unique ability to inspire hope in others through storytelling," he added.

As part of her collaboration with Imax, Myers trained around 120 astronauts and cosmonauts to become moviemakers, and directed them as they sent back images for giant-screen documentaries she either wrote, directed, produced or edited.

Former NASA astronaut Tom Jones on his Twitter account paid tribute to Myers as an "Imax genius." "The first film on shuttle I recall seeing – Toni's The Dream is Alive – blew me away. I wanted to be a part of that adventure. We’ll miss Toni, but her films will never be eclipsed," he wrote.

Fellow NASA astronaut Mark Polansky also recalled Myers with his own tweet: "Toni was an artist who brought human space exploration alive to everyone. Toni's work on Imax films such as The Dream is Alive, ISS, and more will live forever, as will her legacy. Godspeed, Toni."

And yet another NASA astronaut who learned the filmmaking ropes from Myers, Terry Virts, on Tuesday recalled his collaboration on the 2016 documentary A Beautiful Planet as the highlight of his career in space. "Toni's legacy will live on forever," Virts tweeted.

Myers also produced and directed the documentary Hubble 3D, narrated by Leonardo DiCaprio, and served as the producer, editor and co-writer for director Howard Hall’s 2009 underwater Imax adventure pic Under the Sea 3D, which was narrated by Jim Carrey.

She also teamed with Hall on another popular film, Deep Sea 3D, which grossed nearly $97 million on Imax screens.

Born Sept. 29, 1943, to Douglas and Norah Trow, Myers attended Branksome Hall and the Ontario College of Art in Toronto before launching her career as an assistant editor on commercials, episodes of the CBC series Telescope and the groundbreaking 1964 feature Nobody Waved Goodbye from director Don Owen. That led to work on the controversial CBC public affairs program This Hour Has Seven Days and the drama Forest Rangers, Canada's first TV show shot in color.

In 1965, after moving to New York City, Myers met Graeme Ferguson, who would eventually helped found Imax. Together, Myers and Ferguson collaborated on the multi-image film Polar Life, which debuted at Montreal’s EXPO ’67 and launched a 50-year partnership that included a slew of high-profile documentaries for Imax.

But that collaboration had to wait for Myers in 1967 to return from England, where she worked on films like Allan King’s Who Is series about artists, BBC’s Horizon and music projects for Apple, The Beatles’ production shingle. That output included features and videos for John Lennon and Yoko Ono, in addition to a documentary feature by Myers that was commissioned by the band Santana.

Ferguson invited Myers back to Canada to edit his pioneering Imax film North of Superior (1971), which debuted at the Ontario Place Cinesphere theater in Toronto.

By coincidence, Ontario Place’s Cinesphere on Monday, the day Myers died, screened A Beautiful Planet free of charge to celebrate Family Day.

Work on North of Superior for Imax also earned Myers additional gigs to edit films for the CBC’s experimental dramatic series For the Record; work for iconic Canadian directors Gilles Carle, Claude Jutra and Francis Mankiewicz; and a prize for her work on Jutra’s Ada for the CBC.

She also edited Stories From the North and South, Gail Singer’s award-winning documentary for the National Film Board’s Studio D. But all that was a prelude to Myers' long collaboration with Imax on large-format films, which included early efforts like Ocean, Snow Job, Hail Columbia! and Heart Land.

Myers was also associate producer and supervising editor on Rolling Stones: At the Max. Then came her work with the Imax Space team, founded by Ferguson. There she wrote and edited the multiple award-winning space films The Dream Is Alive, Destiny in Space and Blue Planet, which she also narrated. They were followed by L-5: First City in Space and Mission to Mir, which Myers also co-produced.

Myers was predeceased by her husband, painter and filmmaker Michael Myers, in 2010. She leaves behind son Jackson Myers and step-daughter Micki Myers.