George Clooney and Josh Brolin reuniting with Coens for ‘Hail, Caesar!’ at Universal

Since breaking onto the cinema scene with 1985's “Blood Simple,” Joel and Ethan Coen have made movies with Miramax, Focus Features, Paramount Pictures, Warner Bros., 20th Century Fox, Walt Disney Studios, the long-gone Gramercy Pictures, Universal Pictures and CBS Films. Recently, the duo have partnered with uber-producer Scott Rudin on three straight movies, but now they are taking a break from their “True Grit” collaborator and reuniting with longtime buddies Working Title for “Hail, Caesar!” And, in something of a surprise, news broke today that the film will be released by Universal Pictures instead of the company's mini-major and previous Coens home, Focus Features. Could the Clooney factor be the reason?

According to Deadline, “Hail, Caesar!” is a comedy that centers on a Hollywood fixer, Eddie Mannix, whose job is to protect studio system stars from press, paparazzi and who knows what else. It's still unclear whether Clooney or Brolin are playing Mannix.

Both men have a history with the Coens. Clooney has appeared in “O Brother, Where Art Thou?,” “Burn After Reading” and the filmmakers' one movie for big Universal, the box office and critical disappointment “Intolerable Cruelty.” Brolin starred in the Coens' Best Picture winner “No Country for Old Men.”

This is the sort of prestige picture Universal has avoided since Comcast acquired NBCUniversal, but Clooney's recent string of box office successes (“Monuments Men,” “Gravity,” “Descendants”) might be the main reason this isn't a Focus flick. Plus, no Catherine Zeta-Jones this time around (well, at least not yet).

Whether they like it or not (and we're 99% sure they don't), any Coens film automatically gets pegged for awards season. Last year's “Inside Llewyn Davis” wasn't embraced by the Academy, but when three of your last five films have been nominated for Best Picture, it's hard not to be classified as “Oscar bait.” The same also goes for Clooney, who has eight nods and two Oscar statues to his name in just eight years.

No word on when the picture will go into production, but Clooney's slate is free after he recently wrapped Brad Bird's “Tomorrowland” and finished his worldwide promotional tour for “Monuments Men.” Our guess is we'll see “Caesar” sometime in late 2015.