April 24, 2007 / 5:39 AM / in 11 years

Chinese pirates beat Spider-Man to the punch

BEIJING (Reuters) - China’s infamous movie pirates have done it again -- “Spider-Man 3” is already being sold on Beijing’s streets almost two weeks ahead of its U.S. premier.

Costing just over $1 apiece, the pirated DVDs appear to be of the actual movie, complete with a picture of the hero in a new, black spider suit which he wears for some of the film.

There is even a warning on the back, printed in Chinese, against pirating the product.

But put the one bought on Tuesday in the machine, and it does not work -- a common problem with Chinese-made DVDs, which are often made with poor equipment in dingy backrooms.

A scene from "Spider-Man 3" in an image courtesy of Columbia Pictures. China's infamous movie pirates have done it again -- "Spider-Man 3" is already being sold on Beijing's streets almost two weeks ahead of its U.S. premier. REUTERS/Handout

Early pirated copies of Hollywood blockbusters are sometimes filmed in cinemas and viewers can see people walking in front of the screen or hear members of the audience coughing. Other DVDs show totally different films to what may be advertised on the cover. China has been riled by U.S. complaints to the World Trade Organisation that it is not doing enough to tackle piracy, such as the billions lost each year by Hollywood to copyright pirates.

The government says it does take the problem seriously, but faces a multitude of problems such as convincing the man on the street not to buy fakes.

“It’s too expensive to go to the cinema to watch movies,” said Beijing resident Duan Nana. “This has a lot to do with why people are rushing to buy fake DVDs and watch movies at home. It’s very common and it’s logical.”

“Spider-Man 3” debuts in U.S. theatres on May 4 with the original cast of Tobey Maguire, Kirsten Dunst and James Franco reprising their roles.

The movie had its world premiere in Tokyo earlier this month.

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