LOS ANGELES Sony Pictures Entertainment on Tuesday said DVDs in China that were reported to be pirated copies of widely anticipated "Spider-Man 3" are in fact copies of its predecessor, "Spider-Man 2."
"Contrary to news reports about stolen copies of 'Spider-Man 3' being sold illegally on the streets in China, our investigation in China has revealed no case of the film being pirated to date," Sony Pictures said in a statement.
"After an initial investigation of online sites worldwide, we have so far found no pirated copies of 'Spider-Man 3' on the Internet," Sony added.
Reports of the illegal copies highlight the speed with which some movie pirates work to put fake DVDs on the street, and Sony's response underscores the determination of Hollywood's studios to stop the piracy they say costs them billions of dollars annually in lost revenues.
The movie about a crime-fighting superhero with spider-like powers will not be released to theaters until May 4 after a series of global premieres that began last week in Tokyo.
Earlier this week, news reports from Beijing said illegal, or pirated, copies of "Spider-Man 3" DVDs were selling for roughly $1 in city street bazaars.
Sony said, "We have uncovered examples of 'Spider-Man 2' being sold in 'Spider-Man 3' boxes in China. But thus far, we can find no instance where 'Spider-Man 3' has appeared on
Sony Pictures, a unit of Japanese electronics company Sony Corp. (6758.T), said similar hoaxes have occurred in the past ahead of the release of other major films.