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.
The biggest big-screen Marvel superhero team up in history, The Avengers, is also the highest-grossing movie of the year. Now you can watch Iron Man (Robert Downey Jr.), Hulk (Mark Ruffalo), Captain America (Chris Evans), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Black Widow (Scarlett Johansson) take on Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and his hostile extraterrestrial army as many times as you want at home. The blockbuster arrives on cable On Demand in 2D and 3D the same day it comes out on DVD, Blu-ray and Blu-ray 3D.
The enthusiastically received festival darling Damsels in Distress is about a style-obsessed trio of college girls that take a new student under their wing and teach her their misguided way of helping people overcome "low standards." The comedy starring Greta Gerwig and Adam Brody graduates to cable On Demand the same day as disc.
Another festival film, Jack & Diane, is about two teenage girls who meet in New York and act out the Katy Perry song about kissing a girl all night. When Jack (Riley Keough) discovers Diane (Juno Temple) is moving away, the two must figure out quickly if their newfound love is one that can endure. Written and directed by Bradley Rust Gray, Jack & Diane doesn't even open in theaters until November, but you can rent it starting on September 28 on cable On Demand.
Something came to Cold Rock, Washington and took the children in The Tall Man, and it's up to Jessica Biel to help the town figure out what happened. This mystery directed by Pascal Laugier—the guy who brought us the wicked horror film Martyrs—arrives on cable the same day as disc.
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.
Vudu is the VOD victor this week for offering all four movies listed above on cable On Demand on its site, including The Avengers in 3D, which is a new dimension—literally—for the service. Amazon has The Avengers and The Tall Man, iTunes offers those two titles plus Damsel in Distress, and Blockbuster blows it this week by only offering Damsels in Distress on its streaming service.
Tom Cruise is scary good as Stacee Jaxx—an Axel Rose-ish rock god—in the musical Rock of Ages. Although this celebration of hair bands and hard rock on the Sunset Strip circa 1987 didn't really find its audience in theaters, maybe it will become a guilty pleasure at home for fans of artists like Def Leppard, Journey, Foreigner, Night Ranger, REO Speedwagon, Whitesnake and more. The movie—featuring standout numbers by Catherine Zeta-Jones, Russell Brand, Alec Baldwin and Mary J. Blige—doesn't make music on DVD and Blu-ray until October 9, but you can download the extended editon to own (not rent) right now exclusively on iTunes.
All four Indiana Jones movies just debuted on Blu-ray in Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures, but the handsome set did not include any digital copies of the quadrilogy. If you prefer to take Indy with you as he travels the world looking for archeological treasures, Vudu and Amazon can help. Both offer an HD digital bundle of the set, but iTunes has the better price at $59.99. It won't look or sound as good as the Blu-ray (the quality is 720p instead of the Blu-ray's full 1080p), but it’s the quickest way to make the Harrison Ford classics portable.
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.
With The Avengers stealing all the thunder on other VOD services, Netflix's offerings this week seem pretty underwhelming in comparison. TV junkies will welcome more seasons of shows like CSI: Miami, Rob, How to Be a Gentleman, A Gifted Man and NYC 22 to the all-you-can-stream party. If none of those work for you, there is always A Good Old Fashioned Orgy—a comedy that can't possibly be as titillating as its title.
Even though Netflix isn't shaking up the world with new additions this week, it's also not retiring too many titles of note. Still, if you want to watch Martin Scorsese's exhaustive biopic No Direction Home: Bob Dylan, you'd better do so by September 26 before it gets its walking papers from Netflix Watch Instantly.