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artisanal film reviews | by maryann johanson

“Hotel Chevalier” joins ‘The Darjeeling Limited’ in wide release, but some fans aren’t happy

If you saw The Darjeeling Limited at a film festival, you also had the opportunity to see Wes Anderson’s prequel short, “Hotel Chevalier,” which introduces Jason Schwartzman’s Darjeeling character and the neuroses he’s dealing with in the longer film, and which has all the fanboys in a tizzy because it features Natalie Portman’s naked butt.

If you see The Darjeeling Limited after it opens wide on Friday, you’ll see the short preceeding the feature.

If you caught the film during its limited-release theatrical run over the past few weeks? You’re screwed. Like I am. If you want to see “Hotel Chevalier” now, you’ve gotta pay $11.50 to see the movie again in the theater.
This is some bad business. And here I was all set to praise Fox Searchlight and Wes Anderson for the cleverness of using a short on the Web as a way to promote a theatrical flick.

When I sat down for Darjeeling at a New York City multiplex last week, I got a little ad before the film, something to the effect of “Please go to HotelChevalier.com to view ‘Hotel Chevalier,’ which may increase your enjoyment of this movie.” Cool, I thought. I didn’t have a chance, however, to look for the short online until yesterday. And now it’s gone. (HotelChevalier.com still says the film is “now playing free on iTunes.” It isn’t.) This is because Fox Searchlight has decided to toss the short up there on the big screen with the feature film.

Which is also a great idea. The bad idea is removing the short from the Web. This makes no sense to me. In what way does showing the short theatrically negate the value of teasing potential moviegoers with it online? (And how does it make sense to piss off everyone who took a chance on Darjeeling — which has not garnered universally positive reviews, though I think it’s brilliant — while it was playing in only a handful of theaters?)

I want to see “Hotel Chevalier.” I didn’t know I was in a race to watch it online. Someone might have told me.

(FYI, there’s a nice review of “Hotel Chevalier” by my fellow Film.com contributor Amanda Mae Meyncke here.)

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  • Big Will

    Just download it?

  • Kate

    As someone without an mp3 player, even though “Hotel Chevalier” was free, I was a bit annoyed I had to spend time and open an iTunes account just to view it. However, at least I got to see it!

    Then again, “Darjeeling” was so magnificent, I’m planning on seeing it in the theatre again, so I’ll be able to see the short on the big screen, anyway.

  • Ah, and don’t forget, it was only “available free” to begin with if you were living in the US. Apparently us Europeans don’t deserve this tidbit until the February (!) release, here in the Netherlands at least.

  • MaryAnn

    Just download it?

    Well, I tried that. And I got a version that cannot be authorized via iTunes because someone else already did that. I don’t have time to download 100 copies before I find one that works.

    Ah, and don’t forget, it was only “available free” to begin with if you were living in the US.

    Oh, I’ve run into that ridiculousness in the opposite direction, with the Torchwood website, which is all but useless if you’re not in the U.K.

  • Big Will

    I’ll see if I can download a non itunes copy for ya.

  • Doa766

    natalie’s butt is enough reason to see the movie

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