Coens’ ‘Hail, Caesar!’ gets a release date, Roger Deakins talks going back to film

Universal Pictures has announced that the Coen brothers' “Hail, Caesar!,” starring Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Ralph Fiennes and Scarlett Johansson, among others, will be released on Feb. 5, 2016. That effectively removes it from much awards season discussion that year, but you could sort of gather that, given the subject matter and apparent tone of the film. Like “The Hudsucker Proxy,” “The Big Lebowski” and “Burn After Reading” – romps that came after heady prestige pics like “Barton Fink,” “Fargo” and “No Country for Old Men” – “Hail, Caesar!” looks like the boys just having a bit of fun.

What's interesting about the film, which begins shooting in Los Angeles next month, is that it marks cinematographer Roger Deakins' first trip back to the world of celluloid since his last collaboration with the filmmaker siblings, “True Grit.” That was four years ago. He has since embraced digital photography, preferring the Arri Alexa camera on films like “In Time,” “Skyfall,” “Prisoners” and this year's “Unbroken.” What will that be like, for Deakins and for viewers?

“I”m a bit nervous actually,” Deakins told me a few weeks ago. “You know, I like it. It”s fine. It”s a challenge and I think it”s a nice thing, to be able to do it again. It might be the last time. Who knows? I mean I like doing digital I must say.  The media advantages now outweigh the disadvantages.”

Obviously it's a choice left to the Coens, who still prefer film. He and the duo never really talked about trying digital because he knows exactly where that conversation would go. “I mean, they eventually turn around and say, 'No, we're analog guys.' And I said, 'Yeah, OK. I'll shoot on a cell phone if you want! But also it”s also set in Hollywood in 1952 so I mean it feels like if anything should be shot on film it should be this film.”

“Hail, Caesar!” follows a single day in the life of a studio fixer who is presented with plenty of problems to fix, according to the official synopsis. The film is produced by the Coen brothers and Working Title Films' Eric Fellner and Tim Bevan.