‘Amazing Spider-man’ & ‘Goonies’ Production Designer J. Michael Riva Dead at 63

Published 3 years ago by , Updated February 24th, 2014 at 11:24 am,

The Goonies Still Amazing Spider man & Goonies Production Designer J. Michael Riva Dead at 63

The casual movie-goer rarely sticks around during the credits. Outside of the actors, directors and producers, many names involved with the making of a film go unnoticed; however, the production of any film (small or large) requires a ton of help from everyone on staff – from the key grip in charge of the camera equipment, to the production designers. With the recent frenzy of post-credit teaser scenes (See: The Avengers), average moviegoers are now forced to sit through the entirety of movie credits – and assuming you’ve been paying attention, you may have noticed the name J. Michael Riva listed as the production designer for some of your all-time favorite films.

In sad news, Variety is reporting that Riva has passed away at the age of 63. The cause of his death is unknown at the time.

J. Michael Riva hailed from New York, and virtually had show business etched in his genes. His father, Will, worked as a set designer on Broadway, and his mother, Maria, was an actress who worked in such films as The Scarlet Empress in 1934 and Scrooged with Bill Murray in 1988.

Prior to winning an Emmy in 2007 for his work on the “79th Annual Academy Awards”, Riva was nominated for an Oscar in 1985 for his role as production designer in The Color Purple.

Most recently, Riva served as the production designer for Quentin Tarantino’s Django Unchained, starring Jamie Foxx and Leonardo DiCaprio (watch the trailer for a great showcase of his work). Riva also held the same position for the opening ceremony of the Summer Olympics in 1996 (Atlanta), and has worked on as many as  40 films – including The Golden Child, Lethal WeaponIron Man Iron Man 2 and the forthcoming The Amazing Spider-man, which stars Andrew Garfield as Spidey.

django unchained Amazing Spider man & Goonies Production Designer J. Michael Riva Dead at 63

So, the next time you attend a film, attempt to sit through the credits (even if there’s no post-credit scene) and pay attention to some of the folks who would normally go unnoticed. Remember, some of your favorite films would not have looked or felt so good without them. J. Michael Riva would have certainly agreed.

J. Michael Riva’s last two pieces of work hit theaters later this year. The Amazing Spider-man opens on July 3rd, 2012, and Django Unchained is due out on December 25th, 2012.

Source: Variety

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  1. Rest in peace, Mr Riva!

  2. Its a sad day for the movie world. RIP.

    • Not really.

  3. J. Michael Rival Designing in heaven, only a gift that comes from God, Rest in Peace! Thank you for what gave even a Tennesse lady dreams, gave us all such exciting memories watching the sets too!

  4. The Production Designer is listed in the title credits, not the end credits!!

  5. I worked with Michael Riva briefly on Iron Man 1. A group of us board artists were designing many of the action sequences for months before a production designer was hired. When Riva started, he had us all fired so he could bring in his group of board artists that would answer to him. It was satisfying to see our sequences on screen albeit npwith no screen credit. Quite the politician. Rest in peace, Michael Riva. Thanks for the memories.

  6. Michael was a neighbor of mine in Benedict Canyon in 1970. I always loved him. He as just starting his career but what a sweet soul he had. Very gentle and kind. I’m saddened by his passing.