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.
This year, both Christmas and New Year's Day fall on a Tuesday, the traditional release day for not only DVD and Blu-ray titles, but also for VOD releases. This has resulted in distributors sidestepping the holidays to experiment with different release dates (usually Monday or Friday) or, more often, holding their releases until Santa goes back to the North Pole and America nurses its collective New Year's Eve hangover. That doesn't mean there's absolutely nothing new to stream as 2012 winds down, but the best of the year is already out there in the cloud ready to be discovered.
Last week we told you about The Words, starring Bradley Cooper as a man with a loving wife (Zoe Saldana) and a successful novel… that he didn't exactly write. His past wrongs come back to haunt him in this romantic thriller that was previously available only for purchase on other VOD services, but now is available for rent on cable On Demand the same day (Christmas Eve) the DVD and Blu-ray editions arrive in stores.
John Dies at the End is a dark horror-comedy film written and directed by Don Cascarelli and based on the novel of the same name by David Wong. The movie—which stars Chase Williamson, Rob Mayes, Paul Giamatti, Clancy Brown, Phantasm "Tall Man" Angus Scrimm and many more—doesn't even open in theaters until January 25, but you can stream it on cable On Demand starting on December 27.
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.
Looper is one of the very best sci-fi movies of 2012 with its time-travelling story about a hired gun named Joe (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who collects a lot of silver by killing people the mob sends back through time for him. Big problems arise when the mob sends back Joe's older self (Bruce Willis) for younger Joe to eliminate and close the loop in this futuristic brain-tickling effort by director Rian Johnson. Looper doesn't drop into our reality on DVD and Blu-ray until December 31, but you can download it to own—not rent—right now on all four VOD services.
Dax Shepard stars as a nice guy with a questionable past who risks everything when he busts out of the Witness Protection Program to drive his girlfriend (Kristen Bell) to Los Angeles in Hit & Run. The action-comedy costarring Bradley Cooper and Tom Arnold doesn't crash onto disc until January 8, but you can download it to own—not rent—today on all four VOD services.
If you can't wait until Man of Steel to see Henry Cavill in action, you can check him out in the suspense thriller The Cold Light of Day in which he plays a man whose family is kidnapped while they are vacationing overseas. Bruce Willis and Sigourney Weaver also star in this widely panned movie (6% on Rotten Tomatoes) that doesn't arrive on disc until late January but can be rented only right now on all four VOD services.
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.
Netflix still has some stocking stuffers to deliver to its Watch Instantly customers before the year is out. Recent additions include the holiday-appropriate National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation with Chevy Chase and Beverly D'Angelo, the animated hit The Polar Express, the animated Batman: Year One for the Dark Knight obsessed, and—on December 29—the self-explanatory comedy Jeff, Who Lives at Home with Jason Segel, Ed Helms and Susan Sarandon.
The biggest release going bye-bye this week is Iron Man 2, so if you want to watch Robert Downey Jr. in this pre-Avengers superhero adventure, you'd better watch out, you'd better not cry, you'd better not shout and watch it before it expires on Christmas.