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.
Cowriter Joss Whedeon and cowriter-director Drew Goddard set up a familiar premise in The Cabin in the Woods—five college friends go to a remote cabin for some weekend partying—but then everything you expect is turned upside down when you realize the fivesome (including Chris Hemsworth and Kristen Connolly) are pawns in a planned sacrifice with global implications. The diabolically clever, funny and well-reviewed meta-horror movie comes to cable On Demand the same day as DVD and Blu-ray.
Not into scary stories set in dark forests? How about spunky seniors in India? Judi Dench, Bill Nighy, Maggie Smith and Tom Wilkinson star in the British comedic adventure The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, which follows seven seniors as they "outsource" their retirement to a resort in India. Friendships and romance blossom in this sweet-natured story that arrives on cable the same day as disc.
Fans of pop tart Katy Perry's purposely peppy brand of Top 40 music will want to check out the documentary Katy Perry The Movie: Part of Me, which features behind-the-scenes interviews, personal moments with Perry and pals, and a look at the choreography. The "Firework" songbird's pop doc is available the same day as disc on cable in either 2D or 3D, as it was shown theatrically.
Maggie Gyllenhaal stars in the rare period romantic comedy Hysteria, which is set in the late 19th century during a time when medical practitioners tried to treat hysteria in women by massaging the genital area. Hugh Dancy plays the doctor who seems to have the magic touch with the suffering ladies in this British film that comes to cable the same day as DVD.
In the indie film For Ellen, Paul Dano plays an aspiring rock star during a low point in his life during which he agrees to sign divorce papers presented by his estranged wife only to discover that by doing so he will forfeit custody of his six-year-old daughter, Ellen. Jon Heder (Napoleon Dynamite) stars as Dano's good-natured lawyer in this drama that is available on cable the same day the movie debuts in theaters.
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.
iTunes offers all of the movies listed above on cable On Demand on its service, while Amazon and Vudu offer them all except For Ellen. Blockbuster has The Cabin in the Woods, The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel and Hysteria available to rent or own on its digital service.
Pay no attention to some of the nitpicking by overly analytical (and caffeinated) movie bloggers—Ridley Scott's Prometheus is nothing short of a stunning, beautifully shot science-fiction masterpiece. The quasi-prequel to Scott's Alien starring Noomi Rapace, Charlize Theron and Michael Fassbender doesn't come to disc until October 11, but you can download it to own—not rent—right now on iTunes, Vudu and Amazon. Included with your purchase on Vudu are two alternate scenes.
Tim Burton's big-screen adaptation of the cult TV show Dark Shadows stars Johnny Depp, Michelle Pfeiffer, Helena Bonham Carter and Eva Green. Although the tone is wildly uneven, Depp is still fun to watch as Barnabas Collins—a vampire trying in vain to adjust to the technological wonders of the '70s. Dark Shadows doesn't arrive on disc until October 2, but you can download it to own—not rent—right now exclusively on 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.
The best new additions to Netflix's Watch Instantly smorgasbord this week include Spy Kids 2: The Island of Lost Dreams, Adrien Brody in Detachment, the second season of TV's Nikita, the seventh (!) season of Supernatural, the wartime drama My Way, Rachel Weisz in The Deep Blue Sea and the comedy What's the Worst that Could Happen?
You probably won't lose any sleep over what is leaving Netflix this week, but if you want to watch Dragons Forever, Wheels on Meals, The Flaming Brothers, In Search of Santa, Strictly Sexual: The Series, Navigating the Heart or King of the Wind, you'd better log on and start streaming.