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'Hotel Chevalier' getting U.S. release after all?

Posted Wednesday, September 12, 2007 at 4:52 PM Central

by John Couture

After weeks of speculation, it seems that some solid information is coming into focus for "Hotel Chevalier," the little short with a big following.

"Hotel Chevalier" is a short 13 minute film starring Jason Schwartzman and Natalie Portman that serves as a prequel of sorts for Wes Anderson's latest film The Darjeeling Limited. Besides the funny name Darjeeling has been getting all sorts of unwanted publicity as it will mark the first film starring Owen Wilson to be released in the aftermath of his suicide attempt.

In recent weeks, the movie has been getting more positive notoriety for this prequel short that has been tacked on to the front Darjeeling for its film festival showings. "Hotel Chevalier" got a name for itself when a British tabloid reported last week that the short features Natalie Portman's first onscreen nude scene.

Flash forward to this week when the industry trades reported that "Hotel Chevalier" would not see a U.S. release except as an Internet piece and a supplemental piece on the eventual DVD. This news seemed to spell doom to "Hotel Chevalier," but an interesting twist that crossed our desks today may bring with it a ray of hope.

In today's update from the MPAA with this week's movie ratings, they list "Hotel Chevalier" as being rated R for "some language and sexual content." We find this development interesting because the ratings process is an expensive endeavor, one that a studio would not incur unless it intended to release the movie theatrically.

If "Hotel Chevalier" was simply going to be released as supplemental footage on the DVD, why bother to get it rated as all DVDs come with the standard disclaimer that all bonus material is unrated? So, it begs the question as to why would "Hotel Chevalier" get an MPAA rating unless it was going to see the light of the big screen either attached Darjeeling or on its own.

Inquiries to Fox Searchlight about the matter were not immediately answered. We will keep you updated on this story.