Does China have a love-hate relationship with Avatar? Or is it all just media hype? Last week headlines highlighted the fact that the hit film was being removed from 2-D screens nationwide-with some sources framing the event as an act of defiance against foreign movies. But popular today is another angle that suggests the opposite-China’s Hunan province has reportedly officially renamed one of its popular tourist hotspots in the movie’s honour.
According to Reuters, the ‘craggy peak’ formerly known as ‘Southern Sky Column’ in China’s southern province of Hunan, was yesterday officially renamed ‘Avatar Hallelujah Mountain.’ And while it’s not 100 percent clear whether this particular location directly inspired the fantastical one depicted in the movie, there’s agreement across the board that they have aesthetic similarities.
The Avatar Hallelujah Mountains are located in Zhangjiajie city, in the Northwestern region of Hunan Province. The picturesque area is already popular with Chinese visitors and tourists from neighbouring countries, particularly since its Wulingyuan Scenic Area was declared a UNESCO World Heritage site in the early ’90s. And according to government-sponsored tourism organization, Tour Zhangjiajie, the region’s appeal lies in its ‘hundreds of grotesque peaks, beautiful waters, towering trees, deep valleys, marvellous caves and exuberant forest that have formed a complete primitive ecological environment.’
Speculation aside, the motivation seems obvious: make a quick Yuan off of Avatar‘s current massive worldwide success. The director of the Yuanjianjie scenic area’s management committee said on the name change:
‘We renamed the top not because we are blindly following foreign culture. We’re only sending this message to the world: Zhangjiajie belongs to the world and is now known to global tourists.’
Well, it has all certainly ‘peaked’ my interest. And although I don’t think I’ll be joining either the ‘Magical tour to Avatar-Pandora’ or ‘Miracle tour to Avatar’s floating mountain,’ the photos of Zhangjiajie are simply breathtaking.
I think this strategy’s got something going for it.