265 people to be made redundant just over two years since it acquired Weta Digital for £1.21bn

Weta Unity

Unity has pulled out of the professional services piece of an agreement Unity struck with Weta FX  in 2021, resulting in the lost of 265 jobs.

The company acquired Weta Digital, the technology and engineering division of Weta, for £1.21 billion in 2021. This deal included engineers, its VFX tools, a foundational data platform for interoperable 3D art creation, and its library of assets, as well as keeping the now independent Weta FA as its largest customer.

Unity followed this up with the acquisition of deformation and simulation company Ziva Dynamics in 2022, before going on to launch Unity Weta Tools to make Weta’s VFX tools available to the wider market earlier this year.

However, it is now pulling out of its ongoing professional services agreement with Weta FX, leaving the 265 employees whose jobs were related to it to become redundant. Unity Weta Tools will continue with the technology that was acquired in 2021, and Weta FX will continue to have access to it.

Weta FX has released a statement on the subject to FX Guide, in which it reveals hopes to hire as many former Weta Digital crew as it can.

Weta FX statement

On November 25, 2023, Unity and Wētā FX mutually agreed to terminate Unity’s service agreement with Wētā FX effective December 10, 2023. This decision comes as Unity refocus their efforts on their core business. The termination of the agreement will see the reduction of 265 Unity roles. Wētā FX will be extending offers to as many of the team as possible as it looks to expand its research, development and support functions. Unity will retain ownership of the technology it acquired from Wētā in December 2021 and will be evaluating the best way to enhance its offerings with it over time. The technology will also remain fully available to Wētā FX. Wētā FX will continue to build and extend the IP, and develop its own tools and techniques, to continue its evolution as a leader in visual effects.

What does this mean for Weta Tools?

Unity will continue to own the technology it acquired and will evaluate the best way to enhance its offerings over time.

Weta Tools will remain fully available to Weta FX. Weta FX will have the right to build and extend the IP, and develop its own tools and techniques to continue its evolution as a leading innovator and creator in the visual effects industry.

How will it work in terms of integrating the teams back into Weta?

We are looking to extend offers to as many of the Weta Digital crew as we can. Joe Letteri and Kimball Thurston will continue to lead Wētā’s technology vision and roadmap. The roadmap and planning we have asked the team to work on so far does not change with this decision. We will continue to evolve the studio to enable our artists to be more efficient, unlocking their creative potential, and preparing us to continue to provide the best visual and studio experience.

Is Weta FX hiring back everyone?

Unity’s need to refocus its efforts on its core business, and change in its relationship with Weta FX was not something we had planned for. We are endeavoring to hire back as many crew as we can, however, there may be a few roles that we may not be able to accommodate within our new structure. Both Unity and Weta FX will be offering support to those affected.

When was this decision made?

Unity initially approached Weta FX on 26 October, 2023. Unity and Wētā FX reached agreement on 25 November, 2023.

Why was this decision made?

Unity believes the Wētā Digital team are remarkable, but Unity needs to become leaner as it focuses its expertise on its core business. It also believes it makes more sense for Wētā FX to own full end-to-end production activities directly. Unity will be focusing its expertise and people on other matters, and Wētā FX will be getting support for its use of the Wētā Tools directly from its own crew – a shorter path which makes sense for both companies.

What’s happening to the Weta Digital name?

The Weta Digital name and trademark will be coming back to Weta FX however there is no plan to change Weta FX’s name.