Multi-hyphenate produced 'Havoc,' 'Ticks'

Jack Murphy

Jack F. Murphy, a nontheatrical distributor and independent film producer, died in Los Angeles on Jan. 6 after a long battle with cancer. He was 69.

Born and raised in Montreal, Murphy booked 16mm films into schools and religious institutions while still a teenager. In 1963, he became the exclusive nontheatrical distributor in Quebec for Seven Arts Prods., which included the pre-1948 package of Warner Bros. features, and the theatrical reissues of all 20th Century Fox features from 1956 through 1962.

Three years later, Murphy founded Criterion Pictures Corp., which became the exclusive English and French 16mm distributor in Eastern Canada for National General/Cinema Center, Columbia Pictures, Warner Bros. and Astral Films Canada with offices in Halifax, Montreal and Toronto. The Criterion library included many independent packages as well. In the early 1980s, with the burgeoning homevideo market, Murphy sold the company to U.S.-based Films Inc.

In 1984 Murphy moved to Los Angeles, where he set up American Cinema Marketing to distribute independent features to the Armed Forces and the homevideo market.

Murphy also produced a number of independent films, including Canadian features “Les deux pieds dans la meme bottine” and “Pinball Summer” and U.S. sci-fi horror pics including “Syngenor,” “Ticks” and the cult success “Progeny,” directed by Brian Yuzna.

In 2001, Murphy formed Associated Screen Artists to produce and develop feature films. Under this new production banner, he optioned a script from 17-year-old screenwriter Jessica Kaplan. She was killed in a plane crash before the picture was made, but “Havoc,” directed by Barbara Kopple, written by Stephen Gaghan and starring Anne Hathaway as a bored affluent teen in L.A., was released by New Line Cinema in 2005.

In the last several years, Murphy was instrumental in reviving Richard Elfman’s 1980 production of “Forbidden Zone” as a film festival favorite and cult classic. He was still active as a post-production producer in recent months and volunteered his services to the San Fernando Valley Film Festival.

He is survived by a daughter; his ex-wife Riva Spier; a brother George and two sisters.

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