Tourists lured by Cameron's earthly inspirations

BEIJING — A spectacular mountain peak in China’s Hunan province that locals insist was the inspiration for “Avatar’s” floating Hallelujah Mountains has been renamed “Avatar” in a canny move to woo international visitors.

The Southern Sky Column is one of hundred of quartz sandstone pillars at the southern of end of the Yuanjiajie beauty spot.

The scenery is indeed out of this world, with foliage-covered peaks hanging over dizzying sheer cliffs — just like the Hallelujah Mountains in “Avatar,” which this week became the first film to earn more than $100 million in China.

The main difference is that Yuanjiajie’s peaks are not floating hundreds of feet above the ground.

During a recent visit to China, helmer James Cameron said “Avatar’s” mountains were modelled after Huangshan Mountain in Anhui Province.

“All we had to do was simply re-create Huangshan Mountain in outer space,” he said.

However, a Chinese webizen pointed out that the Huangshan mountains were granite formations, and that photographs showed that the model for the “Avatar” mountains was not Huangshan, but the Zhangjiajie pillars.

Local media also said a locations photographer from Hollywood had visited Zhangjiajie in December 2008 to take pictures, which were later used to create various landscapes on the planet of Pandora. Now tourism officials are waiting for their first blue-skinned visitors.

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