On Location: Coen brothers’ ‘Hail, Caesar!’ is helping boost L.A. film production

Joel (right) and Ethan Coen, pictured at the Chinese Theater in Hollywood on Nov. 14, 2013, have begun production on “Hail, Caesar!” in L.A.
(Lawrence K. Ho / Los Angeles Times)

The Coen brothers are bringing some needed star power to the streets of Los Angeles.

The upcoming movie “Hail, Caesar!” recently began production in L.A., giving the region a welcome boost in feature film activity.

Production days for movies filmed on location have declined in seven of the last eight weeks in the city and county of L.A. Location filming for features has been down by a double-digit percentage so far in the fourth quarter compared with a year earlier, according to a Los Angeles Times review of film permit data from FilmL.A. Inc.

Written and directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, “Hail, Caesar!” could at least slow the decline. The Universal Pictures movie, a comedy set in 1950s Hollywood, is among only a handful of high-profile studio movies that have filmed locally this year. Many studio movies are shooting outside of California because of the allure of tax credits and rebates.


“While we wait for California’s film incentive to bring major productions to the state next year, it’s great to have features like ‘Hail, Caesar!’ in town to provide job opportunities to local film crews,” said Phil Sokoloski, spokesman for FilmL.A. Inc., which handles film permits for the city and county.

Set to be released in February 2016, “Hail, Caesar!” follows a single day of a studio fixer named Eddie Mannix (played by Josh Brolin) who works to keep the stars in line during Hollywood’s golden era.

In addition to Brolin, the movie features a celebrity-packed cast that includes George Clooney, Tilda Swinton, Ralph Fiennes, Channing Tatum, Jonah Hill, Frances McDormand, Scarlett Johansson and Alden Ehrenreich.

The Coens are again teaming with Tim Bevan and Eric Fellnar of Working Title, a film production company. They have partnered on several other projects, among them “Fargo,” “O Brother, Where Art Thou?” and “The Big Lebowski.”


Representatives of “Hail, Caesar!” declined to comment, saying the movie was a “closed set.”

But a person close to the production who was unauthorized to discuss the project said the movie would film entirely in L.A. for 11 weeks through February.

The production is based at the Lot Studios in West Hollywood, where 200 extras were used this week in one scene.

The crew also has been shooting at various sites downtown, including City Hall and the Los Angeles Theatre, the historic 2,000-seat movie palace in the Broadway Theater District, according to film permits. The permits listed a crew of nearly 100 people.

Though based in New York City, the Coens are no strangers to L.A.

They previously mined the dark side of Hollywood in the critically acclaimed 1991 release “Barton Fink” and spotlighted a number of familiar locations, including Point Dume and Hollywood Star Lanes, in the 1998 cult favorite “The Big Lebowski.”

The 2001 release “The Man Who Wasn’t There,” set in 1940s California, and 2003’s “Intolerable Cruelty,” starring Clooney as a Beverly Hills divorce lawyer and Catherine Zeta-Jones, also filmed locally. Then there was the 2004 remake of “The Ladykilllers,” the Tom Hanks comedy that filmed in L.A. and Mississippi.

Twitter: @rverrier


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