Oscar-winning Weta FX launching Vancouver studio, hiring 75 workers to start

The Vancouver studio will be the company’s first outside its home country of New Zealand

Weta FX, which worked on films such as The Lord of the Rings: Fellowship of the Ring, is launching a VFX studio in Vancouver | Weta FX

The Oscar-winning visual effects house behind the Lord of the Rings trilogy is looking to build a fellowship of its own in Vancouver.

Weta FX Ltd. revealed Monday it’s launching a new VFX studio in the city with designs on hiring 75 workers to start. The company said in a release it plans to expand beyond 75 workers by the end of the year.

It’s the first time Weta, which was founded in New Zealand by filmmaker Peter Jackson, has launched a dedicated production office outside of its home country.

BIV has reached out to Weta representatives about the hiring plans and will update the story upon response.

The expansion into Vancouver comes just months after Jackson sold the VFX studio to gaming giant Unity Software Inc. (NYSE:U), better known as Unity Technologies, for US$1.62 billion back in November.

Unity has previously taken a liking to B.C., having acquired Port Coquitlam’s Finger Food Advanced Technology Group and its 200 workers in May 2020.

Finger Food is best known for developing enterprise-focused applications for augmented reality headsets. It is a long-time partner of Microsoft Corp. (Nasdaq:MSFT), using the latter’s HoloLens headset to project three-dimensional digital images into one’s field of view as if it were appearing before them in real life.

Meanwhile, Weta’s expansion into Vancouver comes as other giants are also looking to scoop up digital artists on the West Coast.

Walt Disney Animation Studios launched a new studio in Vancouver earlier this year for work focused on long-form series to be featured on the Disney+ streaming service.

Double Negative Ltd. (DNEG), best known for Oscar-winning VFX work on films like Dune, announced plans last year to launch a feature animation studio in Vancouver for 100 new workers.

U.K.-based DNEG has close to 600 workers already based in Vancouver and is planning to hire dozens more VFX artists on top of the new animators. 

Weta’s Vancouver team will be tasked with working on features such as those in Canadian filmmaker James Cameron’s Avatar franchise.

“The global growth in entertainment content has allowed us the flexibility to really pursue the projects we want and to expand our business model to tap into talent in more locations around the world,” said Weta CEO Prem Akkaraju said in a prepared statement. “Vancouver is an established market for VFX, animation and games talent and we look forward to welcoming them into the Weta FX family.”

torton@biv.com

@reporton