The Production

Filming was very challenging. The three, award-winning, film production teams had to follow the North American Monarch population to the overwintering sites, which lie 10,000 feet up in the remote, mountaintop sanctuaries in Mexico. Twice. Then they had to track the butterflies on their migration, from Mexico north through the U.S. to Canada, and then back south again.

This story also unfolds with Dr. Fred Urquhart (Gordon Pinsent) as an older man, as he looks back on his lifelong quest to unravel the mystery of the monarch butterfly migration with the help of his wife and volunteer Citizen Scientists across North America and recalls key events that led up to the moment of discovery in 1975.

production 1 The Production


The best way to showcase the heroic effort and the vast expanse of the continent that the Monarch travels is through the Giant Screen and IMAX® 3D. You become immersed in every detail. Your movie-going experience is enhanced by the depth and clarity of the picture and the pitch perfect sound. The unique geometry of the steep theatres takes you on the highs and lows with the butterflies.

production 2 The Production
Click to download the complete production notes & press kit

Flight of the Butterflies in 3D takes you where no one else can. And reveals the “firsts” that made butterfly history – from the tagging to the filming!

First Adhesive Tag
Fred Urquhart was the first person to successfully tag an insect with an adhesive tag. It only took him 3 years!

First 3D MRI of a pupae
Flight of the Butterflies in 3D gets you up close and personal with butterflies thanks to MRI & Micro CT scans on the metamorphosis of a butterfly inside a chrysalis.

First Citizen Science
Fred and Norah Urquhart were the first scientists to reach out beyond the scientific community and enlisted volunteers to help them gather data on butterflies. Norah placed ads in newspapers across North America and citizens answered the call. To this day, people continue to assist butterfly research by tagging and tracking Monarchs.

 The Production
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