UPDATE: The folks at Sony Pictures almost had a collective coronary today. The studio is denying a Reuters report out of Beijing that pirated DVDs of Spider-Man 3 are already showing up in China. “My understanding is they are selling Spider-Man 2 disks with SM3 packaging,” a source tells me. Sony just issued this statement: “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. Similar hoaxes and false alarms have occurred prior to the release of other major films. 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 DVD. In addition, after an initial investigation of online sites worldwide, we have so far found no pirated copies of Spider-Man 3 on the Internet. This incident underscores one of the problems with piracy – people who buy illegal movies often get ripped off themselves.” I was told the strategy behind Sony opening Spider-Man 3 in China on May 3, a day before releasing it on the U.S. market, was to get out ahead of piracy as much as to create global excitement. (The movie had its world premiere in Tokyo on April 16th, photo above.) But Reuters erroneously reported today from Beijing that Spider-Man 3 is already being sold on that city’s streets. “With a $1 price-tag, the pirated DVDs appear to be of the actual movie, complete with a picture of the hero in the new black spider suit he wears for some of the film. There’s even a warning on the back, printed in Chinese, against pirating the product,” the news service said. Turns out it ain’t the real thing.