Film producer Gregg Hoffman, who developed an eight-minute film into the horror hit "Saw" and its gory successor "Saw II," died unexpectedly after complaining of pain. He was 42.
Hoffman died Sunday at Hollywood Presbyterian Hospital, where he had been admitted after developing neck pain, his business partners said. He died of natural causes, according to a news release from Lions Gate Entertainment, which distributed his recent films. An autopsy was planned.
Hoffman and his partners at Twisted Pictures financed the low-budget films "Saw" (2004) and "Saw II" (2005) and stood to reap millions of dollars.
The first film cost about $1 million to make, opened over Halloween weekend last year at No. 3 at the box office, and grossed more than $102 million in DVD and box office revenue.
The $4 million sequel, released just before Halloween this year, ranked No. 1 at the box office in its debut weekend with $31.7 million in receipts. It has made $86 million in six weeks, according to box office figures released Monday.
The movies center around a sadistic serial killer called Jigsaw who devises intricate games to get his kidnapped victims to kill each other.
"We've won the lottery," Hoffman, a former Walt Disney Co. executive, told the Los Angeles Times in November.
Hoffman began working for Disney in 1995, rising to become a senior vice president of production and earning a producer credit on the family comedy "George of the Jungle" (1997).
He joined Koules and Mark Burg at their management and production company, Evolution Entertainment, in 2003. Soon after, he saw the eight-minute clip about a serial killer called "Saw" and proposed making it into a full-length feature. The original story was by James Wan, who went on to direct the feature "Saw," and Leigh Whannell, who starred in it.
"He discovered this movie, brought it in and talked us into making it. He was the driving force behind it," said Oren Koules, one of his Twisted Pictures partners.
The "Saw" films' success led to multi-picture development deals with Lions Gate and Dimension Films. Hoffman was working on "Saw III" and "Crawlspace" when he died.
He is survived by his wife, Lucienne; two children; his mother; and a sister.