SALZBURG, Austria (Reuters) - “The Sound of Music,” one of Hollywood’s greatest money-spinners, will scale new heights when the original von Trapp family villa near Salzburg opens as a hotel in July.
The 1965 film based on the true story of how aspiring nun Maria sang her way into the hearts of Baron von Trapp and his seven children has provided fans with a host of must-have items.
The Villa Trapp hotel will give visitors a chance to sleep in the family’s former bedrooms or get married in their chapel.
And the gazebo where Liesl, eldest of the von Trapp daughters in the film, and her boyfriend Rolf meet secretly and perform “Sixteen going on 17” will also be available as a self-assembly construction set.
“The hotel really is a milestone for the commercialization of The Sound Of Music for Salzburg,” said Leo Bauernberger from the Salzburg provincial tourism board. “The Sound of Music is well and truly a stroke of luck for this city.”
The film, which starred Julie Andrews and Christopher Plummer and was based on a Rodgers and Hammerstein musical, has inspired sing-along shows worldwide, a drinking game, a self-healing CD and a Maria Barbie doll.
U.S. ticket tracking site www.boxofficemojo.com ranks “The Sound of Music” as the third most successful movie of all time on the domestic market, taking inflation into account, topped only by “Gone With the Wind” and “Star Wars.”
“It is hard to imagine that anyone hasn’t seen it and it is still passed down the generations,” Graham Hales, brand specialist at Interbrand, told Reuters. “It is a property.”
The von Trapp family lived in the villa outside Salzburg from 1923 to 1938 before fleeing the Nazi takeover of Austria. Nazi security chief Heinrich Himmler used the villa as a home close to the Austrian Alps until 1945.
A missionary order bought the residence after World War Two and has agreed to relinquish it for use as a hotel. Entrepreneurs plan to make no alterations to the building other than essentials such as painting and rewiring.
In Salzburg, visitors from North America, Asia and Britain, where the film has been very popular, generate some 700,000 overnight stays every year, according to tourism officials.
For 40 percent of them, the film is the sole reason for their visit. Seeing the film’s original locations is for many, like Lana Wright from New Zealand, a dream came true.
“It was almost a feeling like ‘you’ve come home’,” said Wright, 53, with watery eyes, stepping off a tour bus.
“Finally I have arrived, arrived somewhere where I was supposed to be, somewhere that I was supposed to see.”
Hales said The Sound of Music, by featuring goodies and baddies, heroes who stand up to do the right thing and a heartening depiction of strong family bonds, will be appealing to generations to come.
“The whole story is simply so beautiful — here in Salzburg, with the scenery, the people, the whole story line — it’s just a classic,” said Laura Ude from the United States.
(Additional reporting by Jane Lee in London)
Editing by Mark Heinrich and Robert Woodward