Lord of the Rings' Peter Jackson to Sell His Visual Effects Studio Weta Digital for $1.6 Billion
Lord of the Rings Oscar-winning director Peter Jackson is selling the majority of his visual effects studio for $1.6 billion in a cash and stock deal.
CNN reports that Jackson, 60, is selling most of his studio Weta Digital to software developer Unity, the company behind video games like Pokémon Go and Call Of Duty: Mobile.
In the sale, Unity will acquire Weta Digital's "tools, pipeline, technology, and engineering talent," Unity said in statement Wednesday, adding that the acquisition "is designed to put Weta's incredibly exclusive and sophisticated visual effects (VFX) tools into the hands of millions of creators and artists around the world."
Weta Digital has helped create characters for plenty of blockbuster films and series in recent years, including Avatar, Game Of Thrones, Planet Of The Apes, The Suicide Squad and Black Widow, as well as Lord of the Rings. Over the years, the company has earned six Academy Awards and six British Academy of Film and Television Arts awards, per CNN.
"Weta Digital's tools created unlimited possibilities for us to bring to life the worlds and creatures that originally lived in our imaginations," Jackson said in a Wednesday statement. "Together, Unity and Weta Digital can create a pathway for any artist, from any industry, to be able to leverage these incredibly creative and powerful tools."
He continued, "Offering aspiring creatives access to Weta Digital's technology will be nothing short of game changing and Unity is just the company to bring this vision to life."
John Riccitiello, President and Chief Executive Officer of Unity, added, "We are thrilled to democratize these industry-leading tools and bring the genius of Sir Peter Jackson and Weta's amazing engineering talent to life for artists everywhere."
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As part of the deal, Unity will acquire Weta's 275 engineers, plus tools Manuka, Gazebo, Barbershop, and more; as well as an extensive asset library, Unity stated in their press release. The deal is expected to close by the end of the year.
Weta Digital's visual effects teams will not be included in the deal, and will be their own "standalone entity" as part of WetaFX, which will remain under Jackson's majority ownership, Unity's release reads.
Jackson first founded Weta in 1993. Some of the company's most famous film characters include Avatar's Neyriti, Lord of the Rings' Gollum and Planet of the Apes' Caesar.