Reading Rainbow Documentary BUTTERFLY IN THE SKY Sets March Release

The film is coming to theaters on March 17.

By: Feb. 28, 2024
Reading Rainbow Documentary BUTTERFLY IN THE SKY Sets March Release
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Directors Bradford Thomason and Brett Whitcomb announced the theatrical and digital release plans for the feature documentary Butterfly in the Sky. The film premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival and went on to screen at dozens of festivals, winning fourteen awards in total. 

For 26 seasons, Reading Rainbow met young viewers in their living rooms, whisking them away on far-off adventures into the boundless world of books. Inspiring and nostalgic, Butterfly in the Sky takes audiences behind the scenes of this beloved PBS children's series and tells the story of its iconic host LeVar Burton, giving an inside look at the challenges he and the show's creators faced in cultivating a love of reading through television. Reliving the show's legacy is a refreshing return to the written page. But you don't have to take our word for it.

"Thomason and Whitcomb are terrific storytellers," said LeVar Burton. "To take a look at Reading Rainbow through their lens and share this story with audiences everywhere is very special. I hope audiences walk away with the same warm, fuzzy feeling I did when I watched this documentary for the first time."

“Having both grown up in Texas, Reading Rainbow not only reflected the diverse cultures that surrounded us, but LeVar Burton also introduced us to other worlds in colorful and magical ways,” said directors Thomason and Whitcomb. “We believe Reading Rainbow is among the most important shows ever produced and a true unsung hero of children's programming. It's important for us to honor its legacy and teach a new generation about this milestone in television history.”  

"Like millions of kids all over the world I grew up watching and loving Reading Rainbow,” said Bryn Mooser, XTR Founder & CEO. “Butterfly in the Sky is such a powerful and joyful reminder of the essential importance of children's literature." 

“Sidestilt Films has a flair for original documentaries and we're thrilled to partner with them again following a successful collaboration with The Pez Outlaw, which we sold to Netflix internationally. “Reading Rainbow” featured a host of incredible guest stars over the decades from Maya Angelou, Susan Sarandon, Jeff Bridges and James Earl Jones, and sparked a love of storytelling for a generation.vButterfly in the Sky has a nostalgic, compelling, irrepressibly fun energy and we're confident it will charm audiences the world over,” said Liz Tang, Executive Director, Acquisitions at FIFTH SEASON.

The film's release plan includes a Limited Theatrical Release Starting March 17th in Select AMC Theatres, followed by a full run in New York and Additional Cities, facilitated by Mia Bruno of Fourth Act Film. The Digital Rights and International Rights have been acquired by FIFTH SEASON, and the film will be available on TVOD (including iTunes & Amazon) starting April 30th. ROCO Films is handling educational rights, and is making the film available for classrooms, libraries and educators this April. 

The film is Presented by XTR and is a Production of Sidestilt Films and Window Pictures. Produced by Bryan Storkel and Executive Produced by Whoopi Goldberg, Tom Leonardis, Bryn Mooser, Justin Lacob, Kathryn Everett, Andy Hsieh, Tony Hsieh, Raymond Esposito, John Brooks Pounders and Dava Whisenant. Edited by Bradford Thomason. Cinematography by Tony Hardmon & Brett Whitcomb. Original Reading Rainbow Music by Steve Horelick, Original Music by The Octopus Project.

Featuring LeVar Burton, (Reading Rainbow Host), Whoopi Goldberg (Guest Star), Jason Reynolds (Former National Ambassador for Young People's Literature), Twila Liggett (Reading Rainbow Co-creator), Larry Lancit & Cecily Truett Lancit (Reading Rainbow Co-Creators), Tony Buttino (Reading Rainbow Co-creator), Steve Horelick (Reading Rainbow Composer), Ed & Orly Wiseman (Reading Rainbow Director / Producer) and also staff who worked on Reading Rainbow and kids who were featured on the show during the it's illustrious 26-year run. 

All Reading Rainbow archival was provided courtesy of WNED PBS, Buffalo Toronto Public Media. The film was Co-Produced by Deborah Lee Smith. Co-Executive Produced by Ali Clark, Bryant Saxon, Jeff Tullis, Mary Wu Tullis, Nancy Blachman, Colin Jones, Lee Leshen, Tommy Avallone and for Foothill Productions- Jamie Wolf and Nathalie Seaver. Supervising Producer Amy Bandlien Storkel.

About Bradford Thomason & Brett Whitcomb (Directors / Producers)

Bradford Thomason & Brett Whitcomb are a filmmaking team with a catalog that oscillates between archive-rich nostalgic portraits of pop culture, compelling stories of female empowerment, and observational snapshots of under-explored cultures. Their acclaimed film GLOW: The Story of the Gorgeous Ladies of Wrestling premiered at Hot Docs in 2012.

The Village Voice called it “a beautiful and touching documentary,”  and the film itself helped inspire the hit Netflix series GLOW. A Life in Waves, which explores the life and career of electronic music pioneer  Suzanne Ciani, premiered at SXSW in 2017 and was distributed by Hulu. Their sixth feature documentary, Jasper Mall, premiered at Slamdance in 2020 and was released on Amazon Prime and PBS.

Bryan Storkel (Producer) is best known for producing and directing the Emmy Award-winning  documentary The Pez Outlaw (Netflix) and the Netflix Original Film Bitconned.  Previously, Bryan produced The Legend of Cocaine Island (Netflix) and  produced/wrote Alabama Snake (HBO). He also directed the ESPN 30-for-30 film The  Bad Boy of Bowling and an Emmy-nominated episode of HBO's State of Play. 

About LeVar Burton (Reading Rainbow Host)  

From his calming yet authoritative voice, to his enthusiastic yet authentic love of  reading, to his trademark earring and mustache, both of which caused controversy for  network heads throughout Reading Rainbow's 26 years, LeVar is Reading Rainbow.  He's an accomplished actor whose early role as Kunta Kinte in the beloved “Roots”  mini-series showed him the power of television, and whose 15 year turn as Geordi La  Forge on “Star-Trek: The Next Generation” made him a cult hero.

Still reading to this  day with his podcast, “LeVar Burton Reads,” LeVar's journey with Reading Rainbow  from host to executive producer to educational icon is the heart of the story and an  inspiring tale of success against the odds.