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.
Precious director Lee Daniels' The Paperboy follows two investigative reporters (Matthew McConaughey and David Oyelowo) as they try to exonerate a violent death-row inmate (John Cusack) who they believe was framed for killing a corrupt local sheriff. Zac Efron plays the titular paperboy and younger brother of McConaughey who becomes infatuated by the prison groupie played by Nicole Kidman in this trashy Southern-fried film noir set in 1960s Florida. You don't have to buy the Blu-ray or DVD to see Kidman pee on Efron—it is available the same day on cable On Demand.
While indie-film enthusiasts are kicking around in Park City right now for the Sundance Film Festival to buzz about movies that might make it to theaters one day, one of last year's entries, The End of Love, is about to get a limited release in theaters this March. The Mark Webber-directed drama about the relationship between a young father and his infant son after the boy's mother's death stars Michael Cera, Shannyn Sossamon and Amanda Seyfried. You can rent it right now on cable On Demand before it even debuts in theaters.
Opening this Friday in theaters is the comedy Supporting Characters about two New York film editors (Alex Karpovsky and Tarik Lowe) who juggle their personal relationships while reworking a movie in crisis. You don't have to wait until Friday or even tromp to a theater to get your indie fix—this one can also be rented early right now on cable On Demand.
Attention documentary lovers: there are three new docs debuting on cable On Demand today, the same day they are all released on disc. The Imposter is a British documentary about the 1997 case of the French confidence man Frédéric Bourdin, who impersonated Nicholas Barclay, a Texas boy who had disappeared at the age of 13 in 1994. Searching for Sugar Man is a British/Swedish doc about two Cape Town fans investigating the rumored death of American musician Rodriguez. Finally, Undefeated is an Oscar-winning 2011 documentary about a Tennessee high school football team struggle to have a winning season.
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.
The only VOD service that has all of the movies listed above on cable On Demand available for rent and/or download is iTunes. Amazon offers them all except The End of Love, Vudu has everything except Supporting Characters and also offers a free 10-minute preview of Searching for Sugar Man, while Blockbuster only has the latter on its digital service.
The high school coming-of-age drama is set to make a comeback with The Perks of Being a Wallflower starring Logan Lerman, Emma Watson and Ezra Miller. This celebrated adaptation of Stephen Chbosky's beloved novel doesn't debut on DVD and Blu-ray until February 12, but you can download it to own—not rent—right now on Amazon, iTunes and Vudu. The latter even offers a digital bundle pack with an exclusive behind-the-scenes featurette.
Scott Adkins faces off against Jean-Claude Van Damme and a back-from-the-dead Dolph Lundgren in Universal Soldier: Day of Reckoning. The latest sequel in the Universal Soldier series comes out today on disc and is also available for rent and/or download on Amazon, Vudu and iTunes.
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.
Even though it just came out on DVD and Blu-ray today, Death Race 3: Inferno is already a part of Netflix's Watch Instantly library. The latest sequel stars Luke Goss as Carl "Frankenstein" Lucas—a repentant convict and legendary Death Race driver who is only one victory away from freedom at the Desert Death Race in South Africa's Kalahari Desert. Danny Trejo and Ving Rhames costar in this insane blood-sport opus.
While a celebration of tricked-out gas guzzlers debuts on Netflix, the VOD titan is retiring the documentary Revenge of the Electric Car. Also, if you want to see the movie, Winter's Bone, that earned Jennifer Lawrence her first Oscar nomination and started her on the path to The Hunger Games and Silver Linings Playbook you'd better hurry—Netflix is shelving the flick on Saturday.