WELLINGTON, NEW ZEALAND — VFX studio Weta Digital (www.wetafx.co.nz) has named Prem Akkaraju as its new CEO. The studio will begin producing original content for the first time in its 25-year history. The appointment of Akkaraju reflects the continued growth for the company, which will leverage the capabilities of its award-winning VFX business to produce original animation under the banner Weta Animated.
Weta Animated will develop original animated content for both cinema and streaming platforms. This has been a long-held dream of majority owners, Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh, who will write, produce and direct several animated projects for the company.
“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 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.”
Multi-Academy Award winners, Jackson and Walsh will play a key role in the development of Weta Animated. The new production company will work alongside Weta’s world renowned visual effects business for the film and television industry.
“We’re fortunate to have a strong, creative leadership team at Weta,” says Jackson. “Both Joe Letteri (senior VFX supervisor) and David Conley (executive VFX producer) have played a huge role in the success of the company. The years of experience that Joe and David bring to the table are invaluable. With the expansion of the company, adding someone of Prem’s caliber to this mix is essential. I’ve gotten to know Prem well over the past few years. I’m thrilled he’s agreed to lead the company through this exciting growth phase. Prem’s energy and passion for film is inspiring; we cannot wait to work with him.”
Weta Digital is known for revolutionizing the VFX production pipeline for some of the biggest films of all time, including Avatar, The Lord of the Rings Trilogy and Avengers: Endgame. Over the past 25 years, Weta Digital has developed over 100 proprietary tool sets and groundbreaking AI technology.