Based on a remarkable true story, the epic 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 live butterflies in one of the most amazing places on Earth.
The film is the story of two unlikely heroes that share a common strength. Based on true events, it follows the epic journey of the iconic monarch butterfly in 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 by Urquhart, who enlisted the help of legions of volunteers, known as “citizen scientists,” to help tag and track the butterflies. The decades-long quest yielded the ultimate discovery of the overwintering sites of monarch butterflies in the sanctuaries of Mexico.
Through spectacular Giant Screen / IMAX technology, audiences are transported into the tiny world of one of these intrepid creatures. Dana (Danaus plexippus) begins the journey north from Mexico, a voyage that is completed by her offspring as they migrate through the U.S. to Canada and back south again, ultimately reaching the captivating hidden butterfly sanctuaries set 10,000 feet high in the mountains of Mexico.
The 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, 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 to Canada and one “super generation” to complete the migration back south to Mexico.
In the immersive IMAX environment, moviegoers experience this journey up close and see the evolution from egg, to caterpillar, to chrysalis, to butterfly, captured for the first time through MRI and micro CT scans that bring audiences closer to the action than ever before. The film team also travels high into the mountain ranges and up tree canopies into the Monarch sanctuaries of Mexico to capture stunning footage of hundreds of millions of these magnificent creatures.
“It’s remarkable how such a small insect can migrate up to 3,000 miles to a place it has never seen,” said Fernbank biologist Becky Facer. “Just as amazing is Dr. Urquhart’s life-long work to shed light on a scientific mystery by discovering the over-wintering grounds of the monarch butterfly. It’s real-life a detective adventure. We hope by experiencing the Flight of the Butterflies film, our visitors will gain a greater appreciation for of these extraordinary creatures, their habitats and the natural world as a whole.”
SK Films will donate significant portions of the film’s box office revenue toward Monarch butterfly conservation through Mexico’s leading conservation organization, Fondo Mexicano para la Conservación de la Naturaleza.
The film will show daily in the IMAX Theatre Jan. 4 through May 9. IMAX tickets are $13 for adults, $12 for students/seniors, $11 for children ages 12 and under, and $8 for museum members. Value pass combo tickets are also available for $19 to $23, and include admission to an IMAX film and the museum.
Information: (404) 929-6300, www.fernbankmuseum.org or www.flightofthebutterflies.com.