‘Reading Rainbow’ Doc ‘Butterfly in the Sky’ Scores U.S. Theatrical Release From AMC Theaters (EXCLUSIVE)

Rexa Vella

‘Reading Rainbow’ Doc ‘Butterfly in the Sky’ Scores U.S. Theatrical Release From AMC Theaters (EXCLUSIVE)

AMC Theaters and Fifth Season are teaming up to release Bradford Thomason and Brett Whitcomb’s feature documentary “Butterfly in the Sky,” about the beloved 1980’s PBS children’s series “Reading Rainbow.”

The film, which premiered at the Tribeca Film Festival in 2023, takes audiences behind the scenes of the children’s series and tells the story of the show’s creators, who believed the small screen could inspire a love of reading. The docu also spotlights the show’s host LeVar Burton and gives an inside look at the challenges he and the show’s creators faced in cultivating a love of reading through television.

The doc, produced by XTR, will have a limited theatrical release beginning on March 17 in select AMC theaters followed by a full run in New York and additional cities. The film’s digital and international rights have been acquired by Fifth Season. The doc will be available to watch via VOD (including iTunes and Amazon) starting on April 30.

“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,” the directors said in a joint statement. “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.”

“Reading Rainbow,” which was on the air for 23 years and spanned 26 seasons, featured guest stars including Maya Angelou, Susan Sarandon, Jeff Bridges and James Earl Jones.

“To take a look at ‘Reading Rainbow’ through [the directors’] lens and share this story with audiences everywhere is very special,” says Burton. “I hope audiences walk away with the same warm, fuzzy feeling I did when I watched this documentary for the first time.”

To tell the story of the”Reading Rainbow,” the directing duo relied on archival footage and interviews with the show’s various co-creators and guest stars including Burton, guest star Whoopi Goldberg and “Reading Rainbow” co-creator Twila Liggett.

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

The film is presented by XTR and is a production of Sidestilt Films and Window Pictures. The doc was produced by Bryan Storkel and executive produced by Whoopi Goldberg, Tom Leonardis, Mooser, Justin Lacob, Kathryn Everett, Andy Hsieh, Tony Hsieh, Raymond Esposito, John Brooks Pounders and Dava Whisenant.

Roco Films is handling educational rights, and is making the film available for classrooms, libraries and educators this April.

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