Weta Digital announces Weta Animated studio, work on original animated content

Weta Digital announces Weta Animated studio, which will work on original animated content for cinemas and streaming platforms.
Sir Peter Jackson. Photo credit: Getty

New Zealand visual effects company Weta Digital has announced the formation of Weta Animated, which will produce original content for both cinema and streaming platforms.

It means feature length animated films will soon be produced in the Wellington-based studio to compete with those produced by the likes of Pixar and DreamWorks Animation.

"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," says Weta's Sir Peter Jackson.

"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."

Working on original animated content has been a "long-held dream" of Weta Digital majority owners Sir Peter and Fran Walsh, the company says.

Weta Animated will use the "100 proprietary tool sets and AI technology" Weta Digital has developed over the past 25 years to create its original content.

"Weta Digital began with one machine and just one artist who created the digital effects in Heavenly Creatures," says Walsh.

"None of us knew what we were doing, but even in those early days we could see the incredible potential of this new technology. Since then, VFX has become a huge industry, but our goal has remained the same - to bring stories to life, through the power of imagination. If you can dream it, we can create it."

Weta Digital has also announced the appointment of new CEO Prem Akkaraju, an American who co-founded The Screening Room with Napster creator Sean Parker.

Sir Peter says he's thrilled that Akkaraju has "agreed to lead the company through this exciting growth phase".

It's not yet known when more details will be revealed about the first Weta Animated productions.