Hail, Caesar!


The Film

Hail, Caesar! is a 2016 American comedy film written, produced, edited and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen. The film stars Josh Brolin, George Clooney, Alden Ehrenreich, Ralph Fiennes, Jonah Hill, Scarlett Johansson, Frances McDormand, Tilda Swinton and Channing Tatum. The film is a fictional story that follows the real-life 'fixer' Eddie Mannix (Brolin) working in the Hollywood film industry in the 1950s, trying to discover what happened to a cast member who vanishes during filming.

As the studio's 'fixer', Mannix is busy at work trying to solve all the problems of the actors and filmmakers at Capitol Pictures. His latest assignments involve a disgruntled director, a singing cowboy, a beautiful swimmer and a handsome dancer. As if all this wasn't enough, Mannix faces his biggest challenge when Baird Whitlock (Clooney) is kidnapped while in costume for the swords-and-sandals epic 'Hail, Caesar!' If the studio doesn't pay $100,000, it's the end of the line for the movie star.

First revealed in 2004, the film was originally set to take place in the 1920s and follow actors performing a play about ancient Rome. The Coens shelved the idea until late 2013, when they announced the film was in development. Principal photography began in November 2014 in Los Angeles, California. The film premiered in Los Angeles on 1st February 2016, opened wide on 5th February and played at the 66th Berlin International Film Festival on 11th February.

Hail, Caesar! received very positive reviews from critics, many of whom praised its casting, acting and costumes. As of March 2016, the film has grossed over $59 million.

Cinema Trailer




Josh Brolin as Eddie Mannix, a tough but conflicted 'fixer' who keeps actors' scandals out of the press.
George Clooney as Baird Whitlock, a Kirk Douglas-type film star.
Alden Ehrenreich as Hobie Doyle, a Kirby Grant-type 'singing cowboy' actor and one of Mannix's clients.
Ralph Fiennes as Laurence Laurentz, an acclaimed European film director, long resident in the United States.
Jonah Hill as Joseph Silverman, a surety agent who works with the studio.
Scarlett Johansson as DeeAnna Moran, an Esther Williams-type actress who becomes pregnant while her film is in production.
Frances McDormand as film editor C.C. Calhoun
Tilda Swinton as both Thora Thacker and Thessaly Thacker, feuding identical twin sister gossip columnists, mimicking the rivalry between Hedda Hopper and Louella Parsons.
Channing Tatum as Burt Gurney, a mysterious Gene Kelly-type actor/dancer. Another of Mannix's clients.
Alison Pill as Connie Mannix, Eddie Mannix's wife and mother of their two children.
Verónica Osorio as Carlotta Valdez,[18] a Carmen Miranda-type actress
Emily Beecham[20] as Dierdre, an actress who appears opposite Hobie Doyle in Doyle's debut non-Western film role.
Heather Goldenhersh as Natalie, Mannix's secretary
Wayne Knight as unnamed film extra and Communist operative who carries out the kidnapping of Baird Whitlock.
Max Baker as John Howard Hermann, head of a communist screenwriters "study group".
Christopher Lambert as Arne Slessum, a Scandinavian filmmaker, who is most likely the father of DeeAnna's child.
Fred Melamed as Fred, a Communist screenwriter
Patrick Fischler as Benedict, a Communist screenwriter
David Krumholtz as a Communist screenwriter
Fisher Stevens as a Communist screenwriter
Alex Karpovsky as Mr. Smitrovich
Clancy Brown as a co-star in Hail, Caesar!: A Tale of the Christ
Robert Picardo as Rabb
Natasha Bassett as Gloria DeLamour
John Bluthal as Herbert Marcuse
Dolph Lundgren as the Soviet submarine commander who brings Burt Gurney to Russia, shortly before the other communists are arrested and their cell broken up by the authorities.
Michael Gambon as the narrator


The Coens first pitched the story to George Clooney in 1999 during the shooting of O Brother, Where Art Thou? Ethan Coen described it as a "thought experiment" rather than a tangible project. A comedy film, the story was originally said to follow "a troupe of actors in the 1920s putting on a play about ancient Rome", with the focus on a matinée idol. Clooney was to play the main character. In February 2008, the Coens said that the film did not have a script, but only existed as an idea. They stated that it would be the third in the 'Numbskull Trilogy' with Clooney, following O Brother, Where Art Thou? (2000) and Intolerable Cruelty (2003).

The project was mentioned in a December 2013 interview about Inside Llewyn Davis. Joel Coen revealed that they were "working on" Hail, Caesar!, and that it would likely be their next project. The Coens reconfirmed the film's development in May 2014, with the plot now focused on a 'fixer' working in the Hollywood film industry in the 1950s.


In December 2013, the Coens confirmed that Clooney would remain involved with the project. In June 2014, Josh Brolin, Channing Tatum, Ralph Fiennes, and Tilda Swinton joined the cast, Universal Pictures was announced to be distributing the film, and Eric Fellner and Tim Bevan signed on to produce the film for Working Title Films. In July, Jonah Hill and Scarlett Johansson entered talks to join the production. Johansson would portray "an actress who suddenly becomes pregnant as her film is about to go into production". The next month, Johansson and Hill were confirmed to have joined the cast, and Alden Ehrenreich entered negotiations to star.

In a September 2014 interview with The Daily Beast, Frances McDormand said she had a role in the film. In October, Patrick Fischler, David Krumholtz, and Fisher Stevens joined the cast as communist screenwriters, and Clancy Brown joined as an actor in the film within a film, also titled Hail, Caesar! The following month, Christopher Lambert was cast as Arne Slessum, a European filmmaker who has an affair with Johannson's character. In a November 2014 interview at the Ottawa Pop Expo, Robert Picardo revealed that he had a role in the film and that he was set to begin filming in December.


In October 2014, Roger Deakins posted on his site that he would be the film's cinematographer and was shooting test footage. Principal photography on the film began in Los Angeles, California on 10th November 2014. According to the Los Angeles Times, the Coen brothers' decision to film in Los Angeles increased filming activity in the city, which had previously been down by "a double-digit percentage... in the fourth quarter [of 2014]". Later the same month, Kate Morgan Chadwick was seen filming with Brolin. Also in November, Emily Beecham was said to have a role in the film. In December, Clooney was photographed in full Roman regalia while filming scenes in Downtown Los Angeles.

Tatum dyed his hair blond for his role as a tap-dancing sailor, one of five in the "No Dames!" sequence set in the Swingin’ Dinghy bar. The actor, who had danced hip-hop and street, but not tap, worked without a double after much training. Other dancers came from Broadway, including Clifton Samuels, who said that the scene's greatest challenge was not Christopher Gattelli's choreography, per se, but maintaining the style of the period "in which the dancers must stay on the balls of their feet." A split-screen scene from the That’s Entertainment! trilogy influenced the Coens' decision to widen the shot to reveal crew members pushing the set into place.

Hail, Caesar! was the first movie that Deakins shot on film since True Grit in 2010. The Coens had themselves said that their previous movie, Inside Llewyn Davis, would probably be their last use of the medium But with the classic Hollywood theme of Hail, Caesar! making film an obvious choice, Deakins agreed to give it one more try. "I don’t mind," he recalled saying, "I’ll shoot it on a cell phone if you like." Ultimately, though, film proved a limited palette due to the narrowing choices of stocks and processing options in the wake of digital cinematography. He didn't recall encountering those kinds of problems on earlier projects. "But it makes me nervous now. I don’t want to do that again, frankly. I don’t think the infrastructure’s there."


Southern California locations were used throughout the film, presenting a challenge to location manager John Panzarella. He noted that "period locations are disappearing fast", including several employed in an earlier film he scouted, the 1997 LA Confidential. The Warner Bros. studio, which, unusually, has retained its vintage buildings, stood in for most of the fictitious Capitol Pictures Productions after trailers, electrical hookups and other contemporary fixtures were removed. Union Station in downtown Los Angeles was also used for some studio exteriors. The synchronized swimming scene with Scarlett Johansson was choreographed and directed by Mesha Kussman, and performed by the Aqualillies, a Los Angeles-based group of professional synchronized swimmers. They worked at the water tank on Stage 30 at Sony Pictures Studios; the tank was also used for Esther Williams films and was under restoration until a week before shooting. The wood-paneled conference room where Mannix vets the movie with religious leaders was filmed at the Cravens Estate's drawing room in Pasadena. The office of general counsel Sid Siegelstein was shot at a 1929 building in Los Angeles's Arts District later owned by Southwestern Bag Company. The building was designed by the same architecture firm that undertook UCLA's Royce Hall.

Locations used for scenes beyond Capitol Pictures included the Appian Way scenes, which were shot at the Big Sky Movie Ranch in Simi Valley, and the western sequence, which was filmed at Vasquez Rocks Natural Area Park. The Well of Jehoshaphat sequence was shot at Bronson Canyon, formerly a quarry, in Griffith Park. The nightclub interiors, scene of Carlotta and Hobie's date, was shot at the Hollywood Palladium, with the exterior at the Fonda Theatre. Carlotta's house exterior was filmed at a 1927 home in the Los Feliz section of Los Angeles; this was also the locale for The Good Luck Bar, which stood in for the Imperial Gardens Chinese restaurant. The movie premiere was shot in the Los Angeles Theatre, selected for its spacious lobby.


Digital effects for Hail, Caesar! encompassed three areas: standard effects like Ehrenreich's lasso tricks, period effects including a matte painting of Rome that referenced the 1951 film Quo Vadis, and effects intended to blur the line between a 2016 film and the vintage movie-making techniques it portrays. Examples of the latter include a green screen car sequence made to look as if it employed the older technique of rear projection, and the submarine sequence, which employed computer graphics that suggested the use of miniatures. "It was important that the sub not look silly", said effects supervisor Dan Schrecker, whereas "the whole point of that Rome matte painting was that it was ridiculous." The burning film frame in McDormand's Moviola scene was created by Sam Spreckley, a Scottish visual artist who experiments with the technique. The special effects of the beach house on the bluff were meant as a homage to North by Northwest.


Joel Coen – director, screenwriter, producer, editor
Ethan Coen – director, screenwriter, producer, editor
Eric Fellner – producer
Tim Bevan – producer
Roger Deakins – cinematographer
Mary Zophres – costume designer
Carter Burwell – music composer

Costume Design

Costume designer Mary Zophres began work 12 weeks ahead of shooting, researching period wardrobe from the late 1940s on the assumption that most people routinely wear clothes purchased over the past few years.

She designed for a working film studio of the early 1950s, plus six genre films, each of which featured a major actor working on the set for about a week. Photos from the MGM library and the Academy of Motion Pictures and Sciences showed that film crews dressed more formally: no shorts or sneakers.

Zophres produced about 15 boards of preliminary sketches, including "sculptural Technicolor gowns" for the ballroom drama that were inspired by the work of Charles James. Her double-breasted suit for Josh Brolin was intended to blend with his skin tone, his moustache was styled after Walt Disney's, his hair was permed, and his character alone wore a fedora. Zophres modelled Channing Tatum's look on Troy Donahue and Tyrone Power.

The film ultimately required more than 2,500 costumes, including outfits for 170 Roman extras, 120 Israelites and about 45 slaves. About 500 of the costumes were custom-made for the actor. Toward the end of the shoot, the scope of the project overtook the budget, and Zophres completed some of the sewing herself.


The soundtrack for the film, titled 'Hail Caesar!: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack', features the original score by Carter Burwell, and an original song performed by Channing Tatum. The soundtrack was released via digital download and physical formats on 5th February 2016, by Back Lot Music.

Carter Burwell composed the score for the film, and wrote original songs along with Henry Krieger and Willie Reale.


Universal and Working Title released the official trailer on 9th October 2015. On 29th December 2015, the first poster for the film was released, and on 7th January 2016, another poster was released.


The film premiered at the Regency Village Theater in Los Angeles on 1st February 2016 and was released in the United States on 5th February. The film opened the Berlin International Film Festival on 11th February. It was released in the United Kingdom on 4th March.

Box Office

As of 24th March 2016, Hail, Caesar! grossed $30.1 million in North America and $29.5 million in other territories for a worldwide total of $59.6 million, against a budget of $22 million.

Critical Response

Hail, Caesar! has received positive reviews from critics. On Rotten Tomatoes the film has a rating of 84%, based on 248 reviews, with an average rating of 7.2/10. The site's critical consensus reads, "Packed with period detail and perfectly cast, Hail, Caesar! finds the Coen brothers delivering an agreeably lightweight love letter to post-war Hollywood."

On Metacritic the film has a score of 72 out of 100, based on 50 critics, indicating 'generally favorable reviews'.

The New Yorker's Richard Brody called the film "a comedy, and a scintillating, uproarious one, filled with fast and light touches of exquisite incongruity in scenes that have the expansiveness of relaxed precision, performed and timed with the spontaneous authority of jazz."

Writing in the Los Angeles Times, Kenneth Turan called it a "droll tribute to and spoof of Hollywood past [that] amuses from beginning to end with its site specific re-creation of the studio system and the movies that made it famous." The Coens were "helped enormously by a splendid and committed ensemble cast".

Richard Roeper gave the film four out of four stars, calling it one of his favourite movies ever made about making movies. IGN gave the film 7.7/10, saying, "Hail, Caesar! [is] a fun, charming, and oft-hilarious take on Hollywood's Golden Age."