Dennis Hopper’s OUT OF THE BLUE 4K Restoration @ SXSW


Paramount Theatre on Friday, March
20 at 4:15 PM

SXSW 2020


Presented by Chloë Sevigny & Natasha

Restoration Producer – Discovery Productions

Shocking. Controversial. Unforgettable.  – Dennis Hopper’s brilliant punk rock masterpiece of adolescent rebellion is ready for a new, long overdue close-up! 

many ways, it’s maybe my best film.” 

– Dennis Hopper 

Dennis Hopper’s “Out of the Blue” new 4K Digital Restoration gets its U.S. Festival Premiere at SXSW 2020.  Sold-out, standing ovation World Premiere was as official selection at Venice Film Festival (“Venice Classics”) September 2019. 

This rare film gem got a brand new 4K Digital Restoration by Discovery Productions (John Alan Simon and Elizabeth Karr). 

“If a masterpiece
comes along, people ought to see it.”

 – Jack Nicholson

SXSW – U.S. Festival premiere is the launchpad for Discovery Productions’ 40th Anniversary Theatrical Re-release of “Out of the Blue” coming later this year. Then first-time ever official release on new streaming and download platforms for whole new generations to experience. And, of course, newly mastered, Blu-ray and DVD discs to commemorate the 40th year anniversary from its original world premiere official selection in competition at the Cannes Film Festival in 1980.

Chloë Sevigny and Natasha Lyonne are on board as supporters and official presenters of “Out of the Blue”’s 4K Restoration & 40th Anniversary Theatrical re-release.

“Out of the Blue” – What a great movie! Linda Manz in that movie, mama mia!”— Natasha Lyonne (NPR interview) 

“I love actress Linda Manz as CeBe in “Out of the Blue”, arguably one of the best teen characters ever portrayed on film. Natasha Lyonne and I support the restoration of  Dennis Hopper’s “Out of the Blue” so future generations can experience this “hell-bent classic.:” — Chloë Sevigny (on Instagram)

A kind of spiritual sequel (and cautionary counterpoint) to Hopper’s own ”Easy Rider”, “Out of the Blue” chronicles the idealism of the sixties decline into the hazy nihilism of the 1980’s. 


Don Barnes (Dennis Hopper) is a truck driver in prison for drunkenly smashing his rig into a school bus.  Linda Manz (Days of Heaven) plays CeBe, his daughter, a teen rebel obsessed with Elvis and the Sex Pistols.  Her mother, (Sharon Farrell) waitresses, shoots up drugs and takes refuge in the arms of other men. CeBe runs away  to Vancouver’s punk scene and ends up on probation under the care of psychiatrist Raymond Burr. After Don’s release the family struggles to re-connect before the revelation of dark secrets leads to a harrowing conclusion. 


Discovery Productions, Inc. (John Alan Simon and Elizabeth Karr) finished the 4K digital restoration in August 2019. A successful Kickstarter helped fund the project. Restoration and mastering work was performed at Roundabout Entertainment in Burbank.  A Lasergraphics Director Film Scanner was used for the 4K capture from the original 35mm negative materials. 

Discovery Productions, Inc. (John Alan Simon and Elizabeth Karr) undertook the project to preserve Dennis Hopper’s landmark film and to make it available to new audiences.  

Previously in 2008, Discovery completed a 35 mm restoration of the film’s negative and struck two new 35mm prints, funded with support from Cinémathèque Française and Thomson Film & TV Heritage Fund. These are the only two prints of the movie in existence – Discovery’s U.S. print and the print given by Discovery to the Cinémathèque for the premiere event in their month-long Dennis Hopper retrospective in 2008 – attended by Dennis Hopper less than two years before his death in 2010. 

Because “Out Of The Blue” existed only on 35mm and last century standard-def masters, its audience has been limited to those fortunate enough to see the rare (and irreplaceable) prints at “event” screenings like the Brooklyn Academy of Music, Lincoln Center Film Society, British Film Institute, Cinémathèque Française, Anthology Film Archives, Danish Film Institute, Eastman House and other special bookings at The Roxie, Metrograph and 35mm equipped art house / indie cinemas.   What might be the last 35mm screening at the Alamo Drafthouse in Brooklyn quickly sold out in late 2019.

Earlier last year, the U.S. 35mm film print lost a few frames in a screening mishap. Struck over ten years ago – it will finally get worn out, torn, lost, etc.  As Simon explained, “We’d like to retire the American 35mm print while still in pretty good shape. Donate it to an archive for posterity.” 

And as every film lover knows, digital projection has almost entirely taken over in the theatre business. Technicolor – where the 35 mm negative was restored – is out of the “film” business altogether. 


Dennis Hopper was initially hired as an actor for a Canadian tax shelter- funded movie in 1979. After two weeks, the director was fired and Hopper took over as director with full autonomy. He rewrote the entire screenplay over the weekend and started shooting on Monday. After the incredible success of his directorial debut “Easy Rider” (1969) in which he co-starred with the late Peter Fonda, Hopper was given carte-blanche for his second film – “The Last Movie” (1970). The title proved prophetic. Despite premiering at the Venice Film Festival and winning the Critics Prize there, the hostile response by the studio and most critics and audiences in the U.S. kept Hopper out of the director’s chair for nearly ten years. 

When he finally got the chance to direct again with “Out of the Blue,” Hopper turned what was meant to be a family-friendly after-school type TV movie into a raw, nihilistic drama that lost its certification as a Canadian movie and set producers and financiers at odds. When the movie premiered in the Cannes Film Festival in 1980 as an Official Selection, it was the only movie ever to screen without a country’s flag flying over the Palais or national anthem playing on the red carpet. 

Despite critical acclaim at its Cannes premiere, “Out of the Blue” went unreleased because it was considered too bleak for the U.S. audience. Filmmaker John Alan Simon, head of Discovery Productions, explains why: “It’s a movie for outsiders, about the punk rock scene and the crash and burn of the American dream. Altogether too bleak for the official sunny optimism of the Reagan era.” 

It was Simon, then a film critic/journalist, who rescued ‘Out of the Blue” from the shelf, secured distribution rights and took it on the road with Dennis Hopper back in 1982 to art house theaters across the U.S. including a 17 week record-breaking run at the Coolidge Corner Cinema in Boston and then NYC and Los Angeles theatrical releases.   His previous success with restoring lost footage and releasing the then-shelved original “The Wicker Man” had brought Simon national publicity and a deluge of unloved, mostly unreleasable movies.

Prior to the launch, Simon and Hopper travelled to Aspen to recruit Jack Nicholson – then the biggest star in the world – to record a radio spot endorsing the film as a “masterpiece.” Nicholson had become a star in Hopper’s directorial debut, “Easy Rider” (1969).

When ‘Out of the Blue’ screened about two years ago in 35mm at The Metrograph, The New York Times said: “Film recommendations this week: ‘Out of the Blue’ makes haunting use of Neil Young tracks and is regarded by some as a neglected great film of the 1980s.” 

Calling the movie a “late-blooming masterpiece,” the critic Jonathan Rosenbaum in The Chicago Reader wrote that it proved Mr. Hopper to be an “heir to the cinema of Nicholas Ray.” 

Elizabeth Karr explains why this project is so meaningful for her and John: “It’s incredibly important to us that ‘Out Of The Blue’ be preserved for future generations to experience its emotional impact and artistry.” John adds, “”Out of the Blue” needs to be seen and preserved. Not just because its story of a family in crisis, addiction, and the lost American dream is still resonant today – Not only because of Neil Young’s haunting tracks or its brilliant time capsule depiction of the punk rock scene… but because of its importance as an artistic achievement that helped re-establish Dennis Hopper as an important American director.” 

Celebrity fans of ‘Out of the Blue’ are legion. From Jack Nicholson to Natasha Lyonne and Chloë Sevigny. Warren Beatty to Ethan Hawke and Richard Linklater. From Neil Young – who contributed the title theme song that inspired the movie to the UK band Primal Scream, who incorporated Linda Manz’s famous opening ham radio dialogue into their song “Kill all Hippies”. 

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