Chinese city rethinks renaming mountain after Avatar

A few days back we posted a story about how the Chinese city of Zhangjiajie, located in the southern Hunan Province, had renamed a mountain in the region after the blockbuster film Avatar, which is said to have found inspiration in the nearby landscapes. Now, according to ABC News, officials from the city are back peddling, denying that they changed the name at all, following online backlash over the affair.

Earlier in the week it was reported that a ceremony was held on Monday to officially rename a local peak formerly, known as “Southern Sky Column”, to “Avatar Hallelujah Mountain”. According to local oficials, a Hollywood photographer was in the area back in 2008 taking photos of the mountain, and those images would go on to inspire director James Cameron to create the floating mountains that wowed audiences in the film.

As word of the name change spread across China however, there was an outcry amongst the citizens there. The local government officials in Zhangjiajie were accused of being greedy and too accepting of western culture when they hastily renamed the mountain after the movie, which has been extremely popular with Chinese audiences.The choice to rename th e mountain was so unpopular in fact that an online poll logged a vote of 54,619 against the move, with just 5,897 in favor.

The sudden change in heart also signals a shift in the city’s tourism plans as well. Local guides were already offering “Avatar Pandora Tours”, but considering the public outrage, it seems the region will have to rethink their marketing strategy.