Unity to Acquire Tech Division of Peter Jackson’s Weta Digital

Unity has agreed to acquire the technology division of filmmaker Peter Jackson’s Weta Digital for a price reported at $1.625 billion. The San Francisco-based creator of the popular 3D game platform says the Academy Award-winning VFX firm will “continue as a standalone entity” renamed WetaFX, which Unity predicts will become its largest customer in the media and entertainment space, delivering tools Unity says will “unlock the full potential of the metaverse.” Weta and Unity have already been deeply involved over the years, collaborating on a host of tools used for films, games and immersive experiences.

Weta Digital has worked on the visual effects for film and television including “Avatar,” “Black Widow,” “Game of Thrones,” “Lord of the Rings” and “The Suicide Squad,” to name a few. A blog post welcoming Weta to the Unity fold ticks off an impressive list of software technologies developed by the VFX powerhouse. Unity says it will integrate Weta’s tools with its own formidable arsenal to create a unified pipeline “to deliver content across the spectrum, from cinematic realism to real-time XR on mobile devices.”

Unity says its goal is to cloud-enable these tools and ensure they easily integrate with the workflows artists already use, taking advantage of  advanced capabilities in digital content creation tools including third-party software from Autodesk Maya and SideFX Houdini “to move and manipulate content into the Unity engine.”

Variety writes that Weta’s 275 engineers will join Unity Create Solutions division under an agreement that sees Unity buying the New Zealand-based Weta Digital for $1 billion in cash and stock worth $625 million. Weta Digital CTO Joe Marks will continue in that capacity once the company is absorbed into Unity, Variety reports, noting WetaFX, “with about 1,700 employees, will remain majority-owned by Jackson and led by CEO Prem Akkaraju.”

Unity announced the Weta purchase along with Q3 results, which include:

  • Revenue of $286.3 million, an increase of 43 percent from Q3 2020.
  • Create Solutions and Operate Solutions revenue was $83.7 million and $185.0 million, respectively, an increase of 34 percent and 54 percent, respectively, from Q3 2020.
  • Strategic partnerships and other revenue was down 3 percent, to $17.6 million.
  • Loss from operations was $126.8 million, or 44 percent of revenue, compared to loss from operations of $141.7 million (71 percent of revenue) in Q3 2020.