Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Reality bites for Avatar: China renames 'floating' mountain

Cashing in ... Heaven and Earth Pillar in Zhangjiajie in China's southern Hunan province has had its name changed to Avatar Hallelujah Mountain.

A craggy peak in a scenic part of southern China has been renamed after the floating mountains featured in Hollywood blockbuster Avatar, with the province hoping to cash in on the movie's massive success.

The majestic peak in Hunan province previously known as Heaven and Earth Pillar or South Sky Pillar has been officially renamed Avatar Hallelujah Mountain, the Zhangjiajie city government said in a statement.

The Government said the floating "Hallelujah Mountains" in the movie were inspired by the pillar, as a Hollywood photographer spent time shooting there in 2008.

"Many pictures he took then become prototypes for various elements in the Avatar movie, including the 'Hallelujah Mountains'," the Government's website said.

Avatar, directed by James Cameron, has so far sold $1.841 billion worth of tickets worldwide, making it the biggest international release of all time.

Chinese cinemas last week began taking the 2D version of Avatar off their screens to make way for domestic movies over the upcoming Chinese new year holiday, though the wildly popular 3D version is still available.

Avatar has so far made about $80 million in China, and has become the country's most popular film ever.

Zhangjiajie hopes to capitalise on that fame.

Tourists can now join a "Magical tour to Avatar-Pandora" or a "Miracle tour to Avatar's floating mountain", the Zhangjiajie branch of China International Travel Service Corp said on its website.

"Pandora is far but Zhangjiajie is near," the municipal government added on its website.

"Welcome to Zhangjiajie to see 'Avatar Hallelujah Mountains' and discover the real world of Pandora."

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