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Peter Jackson's 'Weta Digital' FX House Launches Animation Division

The Lord Of The Rings trilogy saw the explosion of the career of not only director Peter Jackson but also New Zealand special effects house Weta Workshop and subsidiary Weta Digital. The company is famous for producing the special effects for many major Hollywood productions including the LOTR, King Kong, Avatar,  The Hobbit Trilogy, Avengers: Endgame, Alita Battle Angel and many more. Now the company is moving into original content of its for the very first time, and has established a new division Weta Animated.
Weta Workshop was founded in the backroom of a flat in Wellington by Richard Taylor and Tania Rodger in 1987 and originally called RT Effects. Early on it formed a successful relationship with local filmmaker Jackson, providing the effects for his early, low budget shock-fests Meet The Feebles and Brain Dead (aka Dead Alive). So when Hollywood came calling for Jackson, he made sure they were hired to produce the effects.

Weta Digital was established in 1993 by Taylor, Peter Jackson and Jamie Selkirk, to produce the effects for Jackson's Heavenly Creatures.  The advanced technologies needed to be developed to bring Tolkien's trilogy to life meant that Weta soon became one of the top effects companies in the world and were soon in demand.

Weta Animated will be overseen up by new Weta CEO Prem Akkaraju, and will develop original content for both cinema and streaming platforms. Jackson and partner Fran Walsh are majority owners of the company, and see it as the fruition of a long-held dream. The pair will also write, produce and direct several projects for the new division. On the announcement, Jackson says:

We are huge fans of animated storytelling in all of its forms, but it can be a long, protracted, and often costly way to make movies. That’s, in part, why we have created this company - to change the model and open the doors to filmmakers and storytellers who might not otherwise be given the chance to show what they can do

Weta Digital has been a leading name in animation for more than 25 years, so this new venture is the natural progression. We would expect their films to push boundaries on a technical level. More than that though, bringing Jackson and Walsh's creativity and storytelling smarts into animated film and series is incredibly exciting.

Also encouraging is the promise to "open the doors to filmmakers and storytellers" who haven't previously been given a chance. The animation industry is sorely in need of more diversity of stories, so this could be a major part of helping that happen.

We wait with bated breath to hear what Weta Animated's first projects will be.