Cable On Demand
Cable offers VOD programming (same-day-as-disc releases, older titles and pre-theatrical exclusives) for rent, usually for 24- or 48-hour periods at prices from about $2.99 for older titles to $9.99 for new or exclusive releases. Since cable offers a direct connection from your cable provider, its VOD offerings are usually less prone to outside interference and can be streamed with surround sound and 3D when available.
Clint Eastwood's ambitious biographical drama J. Edgar features an extraordinary performance by Leonardo DiCaprio as J. Edgar Hoover, the head of the FBI for almost 50 years. The 137-minute movie feels almost as long due to a lack of cohesion and a story that jumps around in time too much, but DiCaprio embodies the enigmatic figure who knew enough secrets to shake up several presidential administrations.
Tower Heist finds Ben Stiller enlisting the help of a small-time thief (Eddie Murphy) to assemble a ragtag group of novices that will steal back the money that is rightfully theirs from a crook in the penthouse of the skyscraper in which they all work. The ensemble comedy—which co-stars Casey Affleck, Alan Alda, Matthew Broderick, Téa Leoni and Gabourey Sidibe—has been available to download to own on several online services for a few weeks, but is now available to rent on On Demand the same day as it is released on DVD and Blu-ray.
In the unnerving indie psychological thriller Martha Marcy May Marlene, Elizabeth Olsen plays the titular character who escapes from an abusive cult and tries to reclaim a normal life with her family only to find herself looking over her shoulder at every turn.
In the rated-R drama The Son of No One, Channing Tatum stars as a young cop assigned to the precinct in Queens where he grew up. Tatum tries to keep his life on track to provide for his wife (Katie Holmes) and their ailing daughter, but a dark secret about a years-old police cover-up sets off a chain of events that shakes the neighborhood.
These four services stream movies to your TV via computer, Blu-ray player, game console or other compatible connected device. Like cable VOD, they offer new titles for rent from about $3.99 to $6.99, but, unlike cable, they also offer the option of downloading the movie to own from about $14.99 to $19.99. Usually movies presented in HD cost a bit more than streaming a SD version.
All four of the movies listed above on cable On Demand are also available to rent and download-to-own on Amazon, Vudu and iTunes. Blockbuster has them all except for The Son of No One.
See what the eponymous notorious fighter, lover and outlaw was up to long before he met Shrek in the hit animated prequel Puss in Boots, featuring the voices of Antonio Banderas, Salma Hayek and Zach Galifianakis. The family flick is available to own for $14.99 on Amazon, Vudu and iTunes on February 24, the same day it is released on DVD and Blu-ray. If you only want to rent it on these services, you'll have to wait until March 2.
Nancy Botwin (Mary-Louise Parker) is out of jail on parole and tries to operate a new pot operation with her family in New York in Weeds: Season Seven. High-definition episodes of the still-smokin' Showtime comedy can be purchased individually for $2.99 on both Amazon and iTunes, or you can download the whole season on Amazon for $32.99 in HD or $21.99 for standard definition.
Maria Ramirez (Katerina Graham) returns to the Bronx to pursue her dream of dancing and help lead a rowdy group of dancers to win a fierce national competition in Honey 2. The sequel nobody asked for busts a move on all four services the same day as DVD and Blu-ray.
Netflix's all-you-can-stream buffet costs $7.99 per month and gives instant access to thousands of movies and television shows via a computer, Blu-ray player, game console or other compatible device. Don't depend on Netflix streaming for same-day-as-disc releases, however. Instead, Netflix offers catalog titles, vintage movies, indie flicks and TV episodes with unlimited access for one monthly price.
In addition to the 2010 Brazilian sequel Elite Squad: The Enemy Within that makes its debut on Netflix Watch Instantly, the streaming service is offering some cult favorites for the first time, including the Roger Corman Star Wars rip-off Battle Beyond the Stars, the Jaws rip-off Orca, the Ramones in Rock 'n' Roll High School, Grand Theft Auto, She's Gotta Have It, as well as the cheap exploitation flicks Women in Cages, The Big Bird Cage, Caged Heat, Crazy Mama, Humanoids from the Deep and The Slumber Party Massacre.
What Netflix giveth it also taketh away, sadly. Expiring from Netflix for the foreseeable future are Dr. Horrible's Sing-along Blog, the Kelsey Grammar TV show Boss, Trancers, Puppet Master, 21 Jump Street, seasons one through five of Highlander, Bliss, La Mission and The Longoria Affair.