Wes Anderson and the online “Prequel”

According to an article in the Wall Street Journal yesterday, movie director Wes Anderson, who directed some of my favourite films (“Rushmore” and “Bottle Rocket” to name but two) is adding an especially unconventional and groundbreaking touch to his latest film project – “The Darjeeling Limited”.

Darjeeling Limited

Before the movie is released in New York on Saturday, Wes Anderson is releasing a 13-minute short called “Hotel Chevalier” online. The short film’s premiere will be Tuesday night at Apple stores in New York, Chicago, San Francisco and Santa Monica. Starting Wednesday, it will be available as a free download on iTunes. Very smart. You can see an Apple trailer for “The Darjeeling” here.

Anderson (not me, the other one) says it is his goal to “get every person who goes to [”The Darjeeling Limited”] to see the short first.” As an added incentive the short features an extended Natalie Portman nude scene (!) – while her character makes just a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it cameo in the main feature.

Natalie Portman

This is a great idea, clearly. I need to find out more about the strategy behind this, but at first pass it plays superbly into “Branded Utility” (something I personally am passionate about), as people are being marketed to in a way that genuinely adds value to their lives. (Well, if you think seeing Natalie Portman in the buff counts!). The Apple connection is also smart – I wonder if the guys at Media Arts Lab were involved?

Going forward this could also be a great way of integrating brands in to movies in a way that supports artists, inextricably associates the brand in question with the content, gives extra value to the viewer, yet leaves the main feature unsullied. Hmmm…

UPDATE: Although this was touted by the WSJ as a “novel approach to generating buzz for “Darjeeloing”, I now learn that “Hotel Chevalier” played as a short film (almost a B-feature) to “Darjeeling” at festivals, but was cut from theatrical release by Fox. I guess necessity is the mother of invention!

UPDATE 2: The prominent and not completely intuitive inclusion of an iPhone in the “Hotel Chevalier” short points to some kind of Apple marketing involvement…
Hotel Chevalier iPod

UPDATE 3: You can see Wes Anderson talking about Hotel Chevalier here (via IFC):

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