Game-engine maker Unity Technologies is doubling down on Hollywood: Unity announced the intent to acquire the New Zealand-based visual effects powerhouse Weta Digital for $1.625 billion in cash and stock Tuesday afternoon. The acquisition is poised to transform Unity into one of the biggest players in visual effects for blockbuster films and accelerate Hollywood’s transition to virtual production and real-time technology.
Unity’s acquisition of Weta includes the company’s visual effects tools and pipeline, which have been used to produce effects for many of Hollywood’s biggest hits, including “Avatar,” “The Hunger Games,” “The Lord of the Rings,” “Game of Thrones” and much of the Marvel cinematic universe. Also joining Unity are 275 of Weta’s engineers; in addition, Unity is acquiring Weta’s data and SaaS cloud businesses as well as a large library of visual effects assets.
Not included is Weta Digital’s core visual effects business; the company’s visual effects artists will instead be working under the roof of a newly formed entity called WetaFX, which is being led by Weta Digital’s current CEO Prem Akkaraju. The two companies will continue to work together closely, and WetaFX will become one of Unity’s biggest entertainment industry customers.
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