The tech division of Weta Digital has been sold in a $1.625 billion deal. Weta Digital is Peter Jackson’s Wellington-based empire known for its work on The Lord of the Rings, Avatar, Game of Thrones and many other major film and TV properties.
The acquiring company is Unity, an interactive 3D firm. The acquisition encompasses Weta’s “tools, pipeline, technology, and engineering talent,” an announcement Tuesday said.
Jackson will remain majority owner of WetaFX, as the new stand-alone entity will be known. Prem Akkaraju will be CEO.
After the acquisition, Unity plans to make Weta’s tools available to millions of creators and artists around the world via a cloud-based platform. The hope is that it will be integrated with Unity’s existing suite of tools and drive the next waves of innovation in a number of emerging realms, among them the much-anticipated metaverse.
The deal is expected to close before the end of the year.
Joining the new company will be 275 engineers who work with Weta’s systems. A data platform and library of thousands of assets are also key parts of the package.
Weta has received numerous Oscars and other awards for its creations, among them Gollum from Lord of the Rings and Caesar in the Planet of the Apes franchise.
While effects are more and more sophisticated and ubiquitous in the movie and TV world, the effects business has proven challenging for some companies due to its cyclical nature. In 2012, James Cameron’s Digital Domain filed for bankruptcy protection in a high-profile reorganization, with majority control of it later acquired by Hong Kong’s Sun Innovation.