Real-time 3D platform Unity has entered into a definitive agreement to acquire Weta Digital’s tools, pipeline, technology, and engineering talent.

Weta Digital’s VFX teams will continue to exist as a standalone entity known as WetaFX. WetaFX will still be under majority ownership by Sir Peter Jackson and helmed by CEO Prem Akkaraju.

The acquisition is designed to put Weta’s visual effects tools into the “hands of millions of creators and artists around the world, and once integrated onto the Unity platform, enable the next generation of RT3D creativity and shape the future of the metaverse.”

Weta Digital will join Unity’s Create Solutions focused on the continual evolution of Weta Digital’s dozens of proprietary graphics and VFX tools, such as Manuka, Lumberjack, Loki, Squid, Barbershop, HighDef, CityBuilder. In the future, with Unity’s expertise in real-time, the tools will be available to creators through an accessible cloud-based workflow.

“Weta Digital’s tools created unlimited possibilities for us to bring to life the worlds and creatures that originally lived in our imaginations,” said Sir Peter Jackson, Chairman & Co-Founder, Weta Digital. “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. 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.”

“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,” said John Riccitiello, President and Chief Executive Officer, Unity. “By combining the power of Unity and Weta Digital, the tools and technology that built characters and scenes from the world’s most iconic films such as Avatar, Lord of the Rings, and Wonder Woman, will enable an entirely new generation of creators to build, transform, and distribute stunning RT3D content.”

“Unity is the best at delivering world-class tools and technology to creators. Together we have the opportunity to make Weta Digital’s award-winning, high-end artist pipeline and tools, which are in a class by themselves, accessible to a much broader audience of artists than what has been historically possible,” said Prem Akkaraju, CEO of Weta Digital. “Weta’s goal has always been to inspire and motivate a whole new generation of creators and it’s exciting to pass the mantle over to Unity. I see a future where more and more content shares the same level of visual fidelity as Avatar and Game of Thrones and Unity is the ideal company to lead us into this future.”

“Weta Digital’s sophistication is represented by dozens of tools that all build on the same, unified pipeline. Alone, each tool is uniquely powerful, but as a complete platform, they represent a quantum shift in our ability to make it easy for artists to bring their imagination to life and work together like never before,” said Marc Whitten, Senior Vice President and General Manager of Unity Create. “We are excited to work closely with WetaFX to continue to push the edge of the art of possible with these tools and to bring them to VFX, entertainment, and eventually gaming and other artists as we evolve our pipeline for content creators.”

Under the terms of the agreement, Unity will acquire Weta Digital for US$1.625B in a combination of cash and stock. Prem Akkaraju, who joined Weta Digital as CEO in early 2020 and is the creator of Weta’s cloud commercial service, will remain Chief Executive Officer of WetaFX. Joe Marks, Weta Chief Technology Officer, will join Unity as Chief Technology Officer of Weta Digital. The proposed acquisition is expected to close during Unity’s fourth quarter 2021 and is subject to customary closing conditions.

The Raine Group served as exclusive financial advisor to Weta Digital.

 

Jon Creamer

Share this story