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‘Lord of the Rings’ Director Jackson Sells Tech Unit for $1.6B

Peter Jackson in 2018. Photographer: Anthony Harvey/AFP/Getty Images

New Zealand director Peter Jackson, best known for the “Lord of the Rings” movies, will sell the technology division of his award-winning visual effects company Weta Digital to U.S. 3D game-development platform Unity Software Inc. for $1.625 billion in cash and stock.

Under the deal, Weta’s visual effects tools, which built characters and scenes for films and shows such as “Avatar,” “Game of Thrones” and “Wonder Woman,” will be available to creators and artists around the world, Unity said in a statement.

“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 the statement. “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.”

The transaction will see Unity acquire Weta’s 275 engineers, tools such as Manuka, Gazebo and Barbershop and a data platform for interoperable 3D art creation.

The proposed acquisition is expected to close during Unity’s fourth quarter 2021 and is subject to customary closing conditions.

Weta, founded by Jackson and his partner Fran Walsh, has won Academy Awards for its visual effects work on “Avatar,” “King Kong” and the “Lord of the Rings” movie trilogy.

In January 2020, Former Facebook Inc President Sean Parker was granted approval by New Zealand’s Overseas Investment Office to increase his stake in Weta Digital to almost 33%.

The remaining parts of Wellington, New Zealand-based Weta Digital will become a standalone entity known as WetaFX. It will stay under the majority ownership of Jackson and will continue to be helmed by Chief Executive Officer Prem Akkaraju.


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