Film director Robin Hardy has died at the age of 86, a family friend has confirmed.
He was best known for cult British film The Wicker Man, starring Sir Christopher Lee and Edward Woodward.
The 1973 film told the story of police sergeant Howie, played by Woodward, who was sent to search for a missing girl on the fictional island of Summerisle.
Hardy, who went on to make follow-up The Wicker Tree in 2011, died on Friday, the friend said.
Last year, Hardy said he wanted to make a third Wicker Man film as a tribute to Sir Christopher.
The Wicker Man was Hardy’s feature debut, and he went on to direct only two more feature-length films. The second, The Fantasist, came 13 years after his debut.
In 2010, the Guardian named The Wicker Man the fourth-best horror film of all time.
Sir Christopher Lee, who died last year, said it was the best of the more than 200 films in which he starred.
However, in a 2013 interview, Hardy said the studio initially feared the film was “rubbish and undistributable” and tried to change the ending. It was eventually cut and released as part of a double-bill with the acclaimed horror film Don’t Look Now.
However, the studio gave the film a wider release when it received praise on the festival circuit.
Among those to pay tribute to Hardy was director Edgar Wright, who said his film Hot Fuzz would never have been made without The Wicker Man’s influence.