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January 26, 2010

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Zhangjiajie cashes in on success of 'Avatar'

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

The "Southern Sky Column" in Zhangjiajie in Hunan Province had its name changed to "Avatar Hallelujah Mountain" in a ceremony yesterday, according to the Zhangjiajie government's official Website.

The government said the floating "Hallelujah Mountains" in the movie were inspired by the "Southern Sky Column," as a Hollywood photographer had spent time shooting there in 2008.

"Many pictures he took then became prototypes for various elements in the 'Avatar' movie, including the 'Hallelujah Mountains'," the Website said.

"Avatar," directed by James Cameron, has so far sold US$1.841 billion in tickets worldwide, and is a day or so away of topping the US$1.843 "Titanic" made to become the biggest worldwide release of all time. "Avatar" has so far made around US$102 million on the Chinese mainland, and has become the country's most popular film to date.

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

"Pandora is far but Zhangjiajie is near," the local government added on its Website.


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