Cineastes of a certain age well remember film director Michael Cimino. His best-known movie, “The Deer Hunter,” won Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Director in 1979, as well as Best Supporting Actor for Christopher Walken. The best-remembered and most shocking scene in the movie was Walken’s character playing Russian Roulette. After all those accolades, United Artists gave Cimino carte blanche to film his next movie, as Western called “Heaven’s Gate.”
“Heaven’s Gate” is possibly the most notorious movies ever made. Cimino spent $44 million making it, in 1979, which was four times as much as it was budgeted. It has a three-and-a-half-hour running time, and was viewed as a bomb. Box office receipts were only $3.5 million. This also led to a historic loss for United Artists, and the movie’s 1980 release marked the end of the 1970s fillmmaking trend from director-driven movies to crowd-pleasing blockbusters. Recently, though, “Heaven’s Gate” had been reassessed favorably by movie critics. Unfortunately Cimino’s career was never the same; he struggled to get pictures made. He died in 2016.
He and his partner, producer Joann Carelli, shared a large compound on West End Road, East Hampton. (In 2002, Cimino ranted to the New York Observer that Hamptonite-come-latelys like his fellow director Steven Spielberg were ruining the Hamptons.) Now, Cimino’s part, 4.41 acres with a large Shingle Style house and a pool, has been sold for $35 million. The buyer is the usual anonymous LLC, and the deal was transacted off-market. Corelli, according to property records, still owns the 2.61-acre plot to the east, with a smaller house and pool. Together, the parcels included about 500 feet of oceanfront and a quarter acre on Georgica Pond.
West End Avenue is famously private, which is why residents, former and current, such as Calvin Klein and Harry Macklowe love the place. Up the road on Apaquogue is Spielberg’s place, while down the road at Lily Pond is David Geffen’s estate. Given the big bucks usually spent the in area, it’s logical to assume that the $35 million is land value and Cimino’s house will face a wrecking ball.