April 27, 2017—SK Films, an award-winning producer and distributor of natural history entertainment, and HHMI Tangled Bank Studios, the acclaimed film production unit of the Howard Hughes Medical Institute, launched the IMAX/Giant Screen film Amazon Adventure on April 18, 2017, at the world premiere event at the Smithsonian’s National Museum of Natural History in Washington, D.C.
The film traces the extraordinary journey of naturalist and explorer Henry Walter Bates—the most influential scientist you’ve never heard of—who provided “the beautiful proof” to Charles Darwin for his then controversial theory of natural selection, the scientific explanation for the development of life on Earth. As a young man, Bates risked his life for science during his 11-year expedition into the Amazon rainforest. Amazon Adventure is a compelling detective story of peril, perseverance and, ultimately, success, drawing audiences into the fascinating world of animal mimicry, the astonishing phenomenon where one animal adopts the look of another, gaining an advantage to survive.
"The giant screen is the ideal format to take audiences to places that they might not normally go and to see amazing creatures they might not normally see,” said Executive Producer Jonathan Barker, CEO of SK Films. “From a humble background, with an unstoppable passion for science and life, Bates played guitar, had a pet monkey, relied on Amazonian natives to survive and learned many of their languages, and made crucial contributions to our understanding of the natural world. He should be more widely known and we’re thrilled to introduce his remarkable story to the public.”
“Walking in the footsteps of Henry Walter Bates, audiences get to follow the clues and see one of the most important discoveries about life unfold before them scene by scene,” says Executive Producer Sean B. Carroll, of HHMI Tangled Bank Studios. “Through Bates’ eyes, we see some of the first and best evidence of how and why species evolve. We hope this film, in tracing his adventures in the Amazon, shows where curiosity and perseverance can lead and inspires younger and older viewers alike.”
Filmed on location in the lush Amazon region, Amazon Adventure uses the immersive IMAX format to plunge audiences into a wild world of breathtaking beauty and captivating animal behavior. Things are not always as they seem in the jungle and audiences will be mesmerized by an array of nature’s masters of mimicry. From the makers of the immensely popular and multiple, award-winning film Flight of the Butterflies 3D, the film is directed by Mike Slee and is executive produced by Jonathan Barker and Sean B. Carroll, starring Calum Finlay as Henry Bates, written by Wendy MacKeigan and Carl Knutson and shot by cinematographers Gerry Vasbenter and Richard Kirby, with an original score by Brazilian composer Antonio Pinto. Although filming in the Amazon was very challenging, the team constantly reminded themselves of what it must have been like for Bates, without any of the transportation and communication technologies available today.
Painstakingly researched for three years, Amazon Adventure enlisted the expertise of more than 100 scientists and historical advisors. The team’s commitment to authenticity not only resulted in this rigorous re-creation, even using actual instruments and tools from the 1850s, but the writing team also incorporated many of Bates’ own words, as he was a gifted storyteller. The film, a co-production between Canada, the UK and Brazil, was granted unprecedented access by the Natural History Museum of London to film Bates’ own scientific field notebooks and botanical drawings, and to film the butterflies he personally collected over 160 years ago—butterflies that had never left the museum, and had to go into quarantine for two weeks after filming.
Developed and produced in close collaboration with HHMI Tangled Bank Studios, Amazon Adventure also received major funding from the National Science Foundation through the film’s educational outreach partner, Pacific Science Center. Other key partners include the Gordon and Betty Moore Foundation, the Simons Foundation, and Foxconn Brazil and Vale.
Variety calls Amazon Adventure, "A large-screen triumph… just terrific… breathtaking IMAX visuals …. but with an equally memorable story of discovery. Parents and teachers rejoice." "The film boasts such a high level of writing, acting and overall production polish that youngsters may be fooled into thinking they're watching a mindless blockbuster when in fact, they've actually been fooled into thinking." Read the full review here.
About SK FILMS
SK Films is a Toronto-based, multi-platform entertainment content provider and a world leader in 3D film production and distribution. The company was founded in 1998 by Jonathan Barker and the late Robert Kerr, the visionary co-founder of IMAX Corporation. www.skfilms.ca
About HHMI Tangled Bank Studios
HHMI Tangled Bank Studios is a production company established and funded by the Howard Hughes Medical Institute as an extension of its longstanding science education mission. Dedicated to the creation of original science documentaries for broadcast, theatrical and digital distribution, the company’s award-winning programs address important contemporary issues and capture compelling stories of discovery across all branches of scientific inquiry. For more information, please visit www.tangledbankstudios.org.
About the film: AMAZON ADVENTURE
World Premiere: April 18, 2017
Run Time: 45 Minutes
File Formats: 3D IMAX, Giant Screen, 15/70 Dome and Digital 3D Cinemas