BREAKING: Sean Parker has become a minority equity investor in Weta Digital, the Wellington, New Zealand-based company formed by Peter Jackson and led by Senior Visual Effects Supervisor Joe Letteri that does the visual effects for some of the biggest event pictures being made by Hollywood studios, including Avatar and its upcoming sequels, Avengers: Endgame, The Lord of the Rings, Planet of the Apes and The Hobbit trilogies.
Parker, best known for his role at the forefront of such disruptive entities as Facebook and Napster, has made a significant investment in the company, which will use the funds and his influence to continue to build the enterprise into the future. Weta Digital has realized the creation of everything from Gollum to Caesar, Middle earth and Pandora over the past quarter century. Peter Jackson built the enterprise to keep up with the needs of The Lord of the Rings films, initially reinvesting funds from those films to grow. The ambitions grew organically. Weta’s development of the revolutionary virtual production workflow for Avatar firmly integrated these digital techniques into modern filmmaking. They have now been used on a dozen films at Weta alone.
Parker and Peter Jackson got to know each other through Screening Room, the venture capital play that aspires to bring first run films through a secure set top box into the homes of 25-45 people who have the financial means to afford to pay premium prices to watch new films, but have disconnected from moviegoing because they are raising kids or are otherwise distracted. Parker and Prem Akkaraju are still working on that service. Jackson, who has stock in the company, believes in the mission. Screening Room is completely separate from the Weta Digital development, but that is how the pair met several years ago.
“I’ve long admired Peter Jackson’s and Fran Walsh’s work, and the ground-breaking VFX and animation that Weta Digital has created over the last two decades,” Parker said in a statement. “The visionary leadership, imagination, and technical expertise of Weta Digital was vital to the creation of Academy Award winning films such as Avatar, King Kong, and Lord of the Rings. I look forward to helping grow Weta Digital and I’m excited to partner with Peter, the leadership of Weta, and its incredibly talented team.”
Said Jackson: “Sean Parker brings an invaluable expertise that will fortify Weta Digital from a technological perspective, while also focusing on its growth as an industry leader. As I have gotten to know him, I have been extremely impressed with his curiosity, intelligence and passion.”