Peter Jackson’s Weta Digital is sold to videogame firm Unity, although the movie special effects house is left behind: more details here.

It’s not quite George Lucas selling Lucasfilm to Disney, but in the world of visual effects, it’s not far off.

News has broken that Peter Jackson has accepted a cash and stock bid for his New Zealand visual effects house Weta Digital. It’s the firm that he used across his Lord Of The Rings and The Hobbit movies, and was also behind the groundbreaking effects in James Cameron’s Avatar. In fact, Cameron is deploying its services for his many Avatar sequels at the moment too.

Jackson is selling Weta Digital to Unity, a company best known for its work in videogame middleware. Its Unity game engine powers many cutting edge games, and also has helped line its pockets ready for a major acquisition. As such, Unity is stumping up $1.625bn to buy up Weta Digital, in a deal that’s expected to be completed by the end of the year.

Unity is buying the technology assets of Weta for that money (including tools for water, smoke and facial capture), and the movie visual effects business will now be called WetaFX, and remain Jackson’s. The company is effectively splitting into two, meaning on the movie side, it’s very much business as usual.

The picture at the top of this article was taken before Peter Jackson did a balance enquiry at his local NatWest.

More on the story here.

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