Jacks, James (Jim): Seminal Indie Producer Dies

Producer James “Jim” Jacks, who worked with independent-minded filmmakers including the Coen brothers, Richard Linklater, Sam Raimi and Billy Bob Thornton, died Monday of a heart attack at his Los Angeles home. He was 66.

“The Mummyfranchise, which he launched in 1999 with producing partner Sean Daniel through their Alphaville Films banner, Jacks was known for championing American auteur filmmakers even while working in the studio system at Universal.

Alphaville launched in 1992, and the shingle produced Linklater’s “Dazed and Confused,” “Tombstone,” John Woo’s “Hard Target” and Kevin Smith’s “Mallrats.”

Jacks’ first credit came as an executive producer on the Coens’ “Raising Arizona” in 1987 and he went on to work on the brothers’ “Barton Fink,” “Miller’s Crossing” and “Intolerable Cruelty.”

After studying to be an engineer and getting an MBA, Jacks pursued screenwriting and worked as an entertainment analyst. His film career launched when he went to work at Washington, D.C.’s Circle Theaters as a film booker. With production division Circle Films, he helped distribute and/or finance the Coen brothers “Blood Simple” and “Raising Arizona” before moving on to Universal as VP of acquisitions, eventually becoming senior VP of production. At Universal he helped supervise Spike Lee’s “Do the Right Thing” and “Field of Dreams” working with head of production Daniel.

Other film credits include Raimi’s “A Simple Plan” and “Dark Man,” Nora Ephron’s “Michael,” William Friedkin’s “The Hunted,” “Down to Earth” and “The Jackal.”

Daniel said in a Facebook posting: “Nobody loved movies more. Passionate, loyal, generous, accomplished, noble, caring, heavily armed, creative, dare I say obsessive on occasion. A good man, a good friend, a wonderful partner, a loving son to his family.”