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'The Lord of the Rings' director sells his visual effects studio for $1.6 billion



Peter Jackson, the director of "The Lord of the Rings," has agreed to sell a majority stake in his visual effects company Weta Digital to Unity Technologies, a maker of video game development software, for a total of $1.6 billion.


During a cash-and-stock transaction, the American platform will acquire Weta Digital's "tools, pipeline, technology, and engineering talent," according to a statement released by the companies on Tuesday.


"This acquisition will put millions of creators and artists around the world in possession of Weta's incredibly exclusive and sophisticated visual effects tools," the company said in a statement.


Avatar, Black Widow, and The Lord of the Rings are among the films for which Weta Digital has created characters and worlds. The company has won six Academy Awards as well as six BAFTAs (British Academy of Film and Television Arts) for its work on a variety of films, including "Avatar," "Black Widow," and "The Lord of the Rings."


The gaming industry has long recognized Unity for its development software, which has been utilized by studios to create popular titles such as "Fall Guys," "Pokémon Go," and "Call of Duty: Mobile."


The partnership between Unity and Weta Digital, according to Jackson, "can pave the way for any artist, from any industry, to leverage these incredibly creative and powerful tools," he added in a statement. It will be nothing short of transformational if aspiring creatives can gain access to Weta Digital's technology, and Unity is the ideal company to bring this vision to fruition."


According to the statement, the visual effects teams at Weta Digital will continue to operate independently as WetaFX, which will be controlled by Jackson to a large extent.


The acquisition is expected to close in the fourth quarter of Unity's fiscal year 2021, according to the company's estimates.


Also stated was their intention to collaborate to shape the future of the "metaverse" — a term that has gained popularity in the technology world as a result of Facebook's announcement last month that the company would rebrand to focus exclusively on virtual and augmented reality — and the "metaverse" itself.

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