Eric Zumbrunnen Dies: Spike Jonze’s Go-To Film Editor Was 52

The Zumbrunnen Family

Eric Zumbrunnen, an ACE Award-winning film editor who worked on several Spike Jonze films including Being John Malkovich and Best Picture Oscar nominee Her, has died. He was 52. His publicist Jason Kasperski told Deadline that Zumbrunnen died August 1 of cancer.

Zumbrunnen began his career editing music videos and documentaries, including Iron Maiden: Donington Live 1992 and The Jim Rose Circus Sideshow. In the mid-1990s, he edited the videos for such modern rock hit songs as the Breeders’ “Cannonball,” Smashing Pumpkins’ “Tonight, Tonight,” and Beck’s “Where It’s At,” landing MTV Video Music Award noms for the latter two. He won the Best Editing VMA for Weezer’s “Buddy Holly” in 1995 and Fatboy Slim’s “Weapon of Choice” in 2001.

Zumbrunnen’s first feature was Being John Malkovich (1999), the Jonze-directed and Charlie Kaufman-penned pic that earned three Oscar nominations including mentions for Jonze and Kaufman. The film earned Zumbrunnen an ACE Award from the American Cinema Editors and a BAFTA Film Award nomination.

Known to many as “EZ,” he continued editing music videos for the like of Bjork and Tesla, then scored another ACE nom for his next film, Jonze’s Adaptation (2002). That Jonze pic, also scripted by — and about — Kaufman, featured Nicolas Cage, Meryl Streep, Tilda Swinton and Chris Cooper, who won an Oscar for his supporting role. Zumbrunnen also was the editor on Jonze’s next film, 2009’s Where the Wild Things Are.

Warner Bros. Pictures

His first non-Jonze feature was the infamous John Carter in 2012, but Zumbrunnen followed that by editing Her, Jonze’s typically quirky 2013 pic that earned five Oscar noms, including Best Picture, and earned Jonze his only Oscar, for his original screenplay about a writer (Joaquin Phoenix) who falls for the Siri-esque operating system designed to cater to his every whim.

Zumbrunnen recently was awarded a Bronze Lion for Editing at the Cannes Lions International Festival of Creativity for his work on Jonze’s Kenzo World fragrance ad, “My Mutant Brain.” He was invited to join the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences this year based on his body of work.

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