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December 3, 2021

Lord of the Rings director Peter Jackson’s foray into visual effects through his shop Weta Digital has paid off big time. The New Zealand-based firm, which he cofounded to provide effects for Heavenly Creatures (1994), grew into a Hollywood powerhouse, providing computer-generated imagery for everything from Wolverine (2013) to the 2019 remake of Lady and the Tramp. On Tuesday, Weta announced that a chunk of its assets were being sold for $1.6 billion to Unity Software, which makes software for videogames. Forbes conservatively estimates the deal officially makes Jackson a billionaire.

Jackson, along with his life partner Fran Walsh, own a controlling 60% stake in Weta, according to New Zealand regulatory filings. Unity, which is traded on the New York stock exchange, is paying a billion in cash, the rest in stock, which translates to about $600 million in cash and $375 million in stock for Jackson, who also directed King Kong (2005) and the three Hobbit movies (2012-14).

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