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Sam Mercer, Producer Who Worked on ‘Sixth Sense’ and Several ’80s Films, Dead at 69

Producer Sam Mercer attends the premiere of "The Last Airbender" at Alice Tully Hall on June 30, 2010 in New York City. (Photo by Charles Eshelman/FilmMagic)

Sam Mercer, the Hollywood producer known for working on the 1999 hit psychological horror film The Sixth Sense and for collaborating with director M. Night Shyamalan on other projects throughout his career, has died. He was 69.

Mercer’s wife, Tegan Jones, said he was battling early-onset Alzheimer’s disease at the time of his death, according to Deadline. Jones told the publication that her husband passed away about a month ago, on Feb. 12.

Mercer began his Hollywood career in the 1980s by working as a location manager for movies like 1981’s Stripes starring Bill Murray, the 1986 Francis Ford Coppola-directed film Peggy Sue Got Married and the Cher-starring The Witches of Eastwick in 1987.

Mercer went on to produce and executive produce several of Shyamalan’s films, including 2002’s Signs, 2004’s The Village and 2006’s Lady in the Water. He also worked on films directed by Steven Spielberg, Susanne Bier, Sam Mendes and more.

Mercer experienced a career shift when Industrial Light & Magic, a company under George Lucas’ Lucasfilm umbrella, named him its visual effects studio head in 2015. Mercer continued producing films in the years that followed, with his last executive producer credit on Concrete Cowboy, a Ricky Staub-directed Netflix film starring Idris Elba and Lorraine Toussaint that was released in 2020. Mercer’s last collaboration with Shyamalan as a credited producer was on 2010’s The Last Airbender.

Mercer first began working with Shyamalan while the director was still in his 20s. In a statement shared with Deadline, Shyamalan recalled that Mercer “taught me that the culture of a set comes from the top down” and that he “led with kindness and showed me how to navigate pressure with grace.”

Mercer “made every movie a family, and I’ve tried to emulate that in every film since,” Shyamalan told the publication.

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