Distributor Fox Searchlight is expanding the film onto nearly 800 screens this Friday, and as added incentive to draw in the punters, it will add a short film directed by Anderson to the bill, according to The New York Times. The short is entitled Hotel Chevalier, also known popularly as The One Where Natalie Portman Appears (Partially) Naked. As Erik Davis told us about a month ago, the short was made available on iTunes for free download; about 500,000 people have downloaded it so far, again according to The New York Times.
The article says that Anderson was "reluctant" to attach the short to the feature. Nancy Utley, an executive at Fox Searchlight, said: "We thought it would be too challenging to moviegoers to be exposed to the short in theaters right at the beginning of the run. We wanted to make sure The Darjeeling Limited got established first as a movie."
The short was, however, shown in front of the feature at New York Film Festival press screenings, so I guess Fox Searchlight had more confidence in critics than in arthouse audiences. Or, more likely, they planned this strategy all along, both as publicity for the expansion and as an enticement for Wes Anderson fanatics to pay to see the movie twice. In any event, tireless Cinematical Editor-in-Chief Erik Davis feels it's "important" if not "imperative" to see the short before the feature, so I guess my procrastination in not seeing either film so far will be rewarded.