Flight of the Butterflies 3D to be Released October 1

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Sun, 09/30/2012 - 20:00 -- Nick Dager

SK Films has announced the theatrical release of a breathtaking new adventure film created for Giant Screen / Imax Theaters: Flight of the Butterflies in 3D. Based on a remarkable true story the epic Giant Screen film experience will be released theatrically in select major markets in the United States and Canada on October 1 and will continue to roll out to theaters in North America and globally through 2013. A special advance world premiere screening will also be held on September 24 at the Smithsonian Institution’s Johnson Imax Theater at the National Museum of Natural History with Mexico’s President Felipe Calderón an ardent supporter of Mexico’s butterfly sanctuaries. Monarch butterflies depend on milkweed and milkweed habitats for survival and a portion of the film’s box office revenue is also earmarked to aid in crucial butterfly conservation efforts. Flight of the Butterflies is a trilateral co-production between Mexico Canada. U.K. director Mike Slee co-wrote the script with co-executive producer Wendy MacKeigan (Journey to Mecca: In the Footsteps of Ibn Battuta The Water Brothers). The film’s executive producer is Jonathan Barker (Bugs! 3D Into the Deep 3D) The film immerses audiences in a triumphant journey of perseverance that spans thousands of miles and several generations tracking real monarch butterflies to their mysterious Mexican winter haven where audiences will discover a truly spectacular sight: hundreds of millions of real live butterflies in one of the most amazing places on Earth. Flight of the Butterflies is an adventure of two unlikely heroes that share a common strength. Based on the true story the film follows the epic journey of the iconic monarch butterfly one of the most incredible migrations on Earth and the determined scientist Dr. Fred Urquhart who spent 40 years trying to discover the mysteries surrounding their journey and secret winter hideaway. What began with a small boy daydreaming about where butterflies went each winter became a lifelong pursuit that ingeniously enlisted the help of legions of volunteers known as “citizen scientists ” to help with tagging and tracking the butterflies in a decades-long quest that yielded the ultimate discovery of the monarch butterflies’ overwintering sites in the sanctuaries of Mexico. The first citizen scientists in Mexico to be tapped by Urquhart American Ken Brugger and his Mexican wife Catalina Aguado spent two years searching in the mountains west of Mexico City under Dr. Urquhart’s guidance before finally making the discovery that graced the cover of National Geographic magazine in August 1976 featuring an iconic image of Catalina covered with and surrounded by thousands of colorful monarchs. The only surviving member of the original discovery team Catalina was on hand as an advisor and accompanied the SK Films production team to the site during filming on location. Audiences are transported into the tiny world of one intrepid creature – Dana (Danaus Plexippus) – and her off-spring as they migrate north from Mexico through the U.S. to Canada and back south again to the breathtaking hidden butterfly sanctuaries set 10 000 feet high in the mountains of the States of Michoacán and Mexico. The iconic monarch butterfly is a true marvel of nature. Weighing less than a penny it makes one of the longest migrations on Earth across a continent yet with pinpoint navigational accuracy to a place it has never been. While much has been learned scientists are still unraveling the many inter-related aspects of this phenomenon of the natural world. As the film illustrates it takes two to three generations of butterflies to migrate north from Mexico through the U.S. to Canada and one “super generation” to complete the migration back south to Mexico. In the immersive 3D Giant Screen environment moviegoers will experience this journey up close and see the evolution from egg to caterpillar to pupa to butterfly captured for the first time thanks to MRI & micro CT scans--which bring audiences closer to the action than ever before. The close-up/macro photography work was undertaken in collaboration with Oscar winner Peter Parks (The Tree of Life). While some of the scientific animations are created using state-of-the-art CGI the spectacular butterfly footage is real. The film team traveled high into the mountain ranges and up tree canopies into the Monarch sanctuaries of Mexico to capture truly remarkable footage of hundreds of millions of these magnificent creatures. “Just as our enduringly popular film ‘Bugs!’ transported audiences to the bustling world of rainforest insects this new film allows audiences to experience the natural world of butterflies as never before—in metamorphosis inside a chrysalis in flight a mile high migrating over great distances and in tree-laden monarch sanctuaries ” said Jonathan Barker CEO SK Films and executive producer. “In Flight of the Butterflies we are able to utilize the spectacular Giant Screen technology to follow an even more fascinating creature—the fragile yet tenacious Monarch—and bring to life the compelling detective story and heroic efforts by an intrepid scientist and real individuals to solve a scientific mystery.” Flight of the Butterflies received major funding from the National Science Foundation and includes an extensive Educational Outreach Program built in partnership with The Maryland Science Center. The world’s top monarch butterfly experts including Dr. Chip Taylor Dr. Karen Oberhauser and Dr. Lincoln Brower served as scientific advisors to the film. Major support has also come from the Mexican Federal Government (Environment & Tourism) and the States of México and Michoacán as well as from two of the most important companies in Mexico – Coca-Cola FEMSA and Grupo Bimbo (the world’s largest baked goods company). In 2008 UNESCO declared the monarch butterfly reserve in Mexico a World Heritage Site. Despite efforts by the Mexican government to protect the sanctuaries enforcement is difficult in remote regions and several forces persist in threatening the survival of the monarch butterfly migration including degradations of forest habitats the side effects of industrial farming and climate change. Significant portions of the film’s box office revenue will go towards Monarch butterfly conservation through Mexico’s leading conservation organization Fondo Mexicano para la Conservación de la Naturaleza.