Weta Digital, one of the world’s premier visual effects companies, has named Prem Akkaraju as CEO and also announced Weta Animated, which will develop original animated content for both theaters and streamers for the first time in its 25-year history.
“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,” Peter Jackson, who is one of the majority owners alongside Fran Walsh, said. Walsh and Jackson will write, product and direct animated projects for the company.
“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 change to show what they can do.”
“When people speak about the magic of filmmaking, they are speaking about Weta,” Akkaraju said. “For over 25 years, Weta has led the VFX/animation industry by fostering an incredibly talented group of artists who work in tandem with a gifted team of computer scientists and engineers. I’m thrilled to be joining Peter, Fran and the extraordinary team at Weta as we enter a hypergrowth stage with the launch of original content, bolstering our VFX service business and expanding our technology capability and infrastructure.”
Jackson and Walsh will also play a key role in the development of Weta Animated. Weta Digital is known for its work on “Avatar,” ‘The Lord of the Rings” trilogy” and “Avengers: Endgame.” Over the past 25 years, the company has developed groundbreaking AI technology.
Sean Parker, the entrepreneur behind Napster and Facebook who invested in Weta Digital last year, also joins the board as vice chairman.
“With Prem joining as CEO, I’m even more excited for what the future holds,” added Parker. “I have long admired Prem’s relentless energy, passion, and leadership capabilities. Prem has the ambition and drive to push Weta to even greater heights, and he brings global reach, strategic thinking, and clear-headed execution to a company whose roots lie in the fertile creative soil of New Zealand, but whose influence has always been global.”