Early last October it was revealed that Jim Sheridan‘s Brothers, a remake of Susanne Bier‘s original 2004 film, was being bumped by distributor MGM out of its 12.4.08 slot to either a late summer or fall ’09 release. Producer Mike DeLuca confirmed this and also told me that the plan was to take the domestic drama to the ’09 Cannes Film Festival.

Then I ran into Sheridan several weeks ago in Manhattan and he told me Cannes was a no-go, due to one or more of the actors (the costars are Jake Gyllenhaal, Tobey Maguire and Natalie Portman) either being against promoting the film there or being unavailable for same. And then yesterday came the news that Ryan Kavanaugh‘s Relativity Media has cut a deal to supply Lionsgate with five films annually, and that Brothers will be the first to open under this new pact. Dave McNary‘s 4.27 Variety story said only that Sheridan’s film would be released “later this year,” which doesn’t sound like summer to me.

David Benioff‘s script is about a younger “bad” brother (Gyllenhaal) stepping into the familial shoes of his older “good” brother (Maguire) after the latter disappears during an enemy skirmish in Afghanistan. Portman plays the wife-mother whose loyalties shift, or at least adapt to new realities. Sam Shepard plays Gyllenhaal and Maguire’s dad.

I’m not saying IMDB reader comments can be trusted, but a few correspondents have claimed to have attended research screenings of Brothers in recent months and found it satisfying. This plus the quality of Bier’s film plus Sheridan’s pedigree tells me it must be at least a moderately decent if not better-than-decent film. But there’s always a reason when a movie gets repeatedly postponed and kicked around. Here’s hoping otherwise.