The Deer Hunter and Heaven's Gate director Michael Cimino dies


Tributes have been paid to the Oscar-winning director of The Deer Hunter, who has died aged 77.

Michael Cimino won Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Director for the 1978 Vietnam War film, starring Robert De Niro and Christopher Walken.

His follow-up, Heaven's Gate, however, became of Hollywood's biggest box-office flops and contributed to the near collapse of the studio, United Artists.

Michael Cimino
Michael Cimino (Domenico Stinellis/AP)

Los Angeles County acting coroner's lieutenant B Kim confirmed Michael - who was living in Beverly Hills - died on Saturday but a cause of death was not released.

Michael had his directorial breakthrough with his second film, The Deer Hunter, the story of the Vietnam War's effect on a small steel-working town in Pennsylvania. The film won a total of five Oscars.

His debut effort as a film director was the Clint Eastwood and Jeff Bridges crime caper, Thunderbolt and Lightfoot, in 1974.

Michael Cimino
Michael Cimino (Edwin Reichert/AP)

But his emerging career took a U-turn with 1980´s Heaven's Gate, a Western starring Kris Kristofferson that was a critical and financial disaster.

Fellow directors led tributes to Michael following news of his death.