New Zealand VFX company Wētā FX has won the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects for their work on Disney’s/20th Century Studios’ Avatar: The Way of Water.
Wētā’s Joe Letteri (Senior VFX Supervisor on The Way of Water), Eric Saindon (Wētā FX Senior VFX Supervisor) and Daniel Barrett (Wētā FX Senior Animation Supervisor) were at the 95th Academy Awards to receive the award, along with Richard Baneham (VFX Supervisor and Second-Unit Virtual Director) from production company Lightstorm Entertainment.
Now a five-time Oscar winner, Letteri said he was incredibly proud of the artistic and technological advancements his team achieved on the film, which enabled James Cameron to bring this ambitious project to the screen.
“Eric, Dan, and I are honoured to represent the 1700 Wētā FX crew that contributed to Avatar: The Way Of Water,” says Letteri.
“This recognition is a testament to the artistry and creativity of our entire crew, and to our partnership with James Cameron, Jon Landau, and the entire Lightstorm team”.
The Academy Award joins a BAFTA Award, 9 Visual Effects Society (VES) Awards, and 2 ANNIE Awards for Wētā FX this awards season. It is also the seventh time Wētā FX has won the accolade of Best Visual Effects at the Academy Awards, following wins for The Lord of The Rings trilogy, King Kong, Avatar, and The Jungle Book.
This year, two other Wētā FX projects were also nominated alongside The Way of Water for Best Visual Effects – The Batman and Black Panther: Wakanda Forever.
“To have New Zealand represented across three of the five nominations for Visual Effects only makes this moment more special,” says Letteri.
Wētā FX is currently working on the upcoming Avatar sequels, with the next installment scheduled to release on 20 December 2024.