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Chinese mountain renamed for ‘Avatar’

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

The "Southern Sky Column" in Zhangjiajie in southern Hunan province formally had its named changed to "Avatar Hallelujah Mountain" in a ceremony on Monday, according to the Zhangjiajie government's official website (www.zjj.gov.cn).

The government said the floating "Hallelujah Mountains" in the movie were inspired by the "Southern Sky Column," 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 website said.

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"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 around $80 million in China, and has become the country's most popular film ever.

Zhangjiajie hopes to capitalize 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. (www.citszjj.com)

"Pandora is far but Zhangjiajie is near," the municipal government added on its website. "Welcome to Zhangjiajie to see 'Avatar's Hallelujah Mountains' and discover the real world of Pandora."

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