Check out what's new to rent and own this week on the various streaming services such as cable On Demand, Amazon, iTunes, Vudu, Blockbuster and, of course, Netflix.
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.
You've nursed your hangover and are getting a feel for 2013, but you won't find much new in the way of VOD entertainment because New Year's Day fell on a Tuesday and threw off this week's release schedule. Last week we reported that the sci-fi hit Looper starring Bruce Willis and Joseph Gordon-Levitt was available on other VOD services for purchase only. Now that the Rian Johnson-directed time-traveling tale is for sale on DVD and Blu-ray, it is also now available for rent on cable On Demand.
Hoops and/or documentary enthusiasts have something to celebrate this New Year's: the arrival of The Other Dream Team on cable On Demand. The doc follows the inspirational journey of the 1992 Lithuanian national basketball team from the clutches of Communism to the Summer Olympics in Barcelona. The movie premiered nearly a year ago at Sundance.
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 Other Dream Team is available for rent—not purchase—on Amazon, Vudu and iTunes. Plus, all four VOD services now offer Looper for rent as well as purchase right now.
In the tepid teen thriller House at the End of the Street, Jennifer Lawrence and Elisabeth Shue star as a daughter and mother that seek a fresh beginning in a new rural home only to find that they live down the road from a house where a family was killed. The closer that Lawrence gets to the surviving son, played by Max Thieriot, the more she learns about his family's tragedy in this practically bloodless Psycho rip-off that milks Lawrence's Hunger Games appeal for a fight-or-flight tale that isn't anywhere near as epic. The movie doesn't try to scare up interest on disc until January 8, but you can download it to own—not rent—right now on Amazon, Vudu and iTunes.
Woody Allen is feeling (what else?) romantic again as the director of To Rome with Love, his new all-star ensemble rom-com featuring Alec Baldwin, Roberto Benigni, Penelope Cruz, Judy Davis, Jesse Eisenberg, Greta Gerwig and Ellen Page. Allen's latest doesn't arrive on disc until January 15, but you can download it to own—not rent—right now on 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.
After adding dozens of new titles at the beginning of December, Netflix gets off to a sluggish start for January 2013. The only release of note this week is the indie flick Pumpkin, in which Christina Ricci stars as a sorority sister tasked with coaching the titular mentally challenged athlete who ultimately touches her heart.
Even though there isn't much new to Watch Instantly the first week of 2013, at least Netflix isn't retiring a lot of titles either. Still, if you want to catch The Con Artist, The Dandelion or the anime Girls Bravo, you'd better do so quickly because they are all disappearing from the Netflix library this week.