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 pro-environment animated kiddie feature The Lorax has been available on disc for a few weeks, but now you can rent the musical comedy based on the Dr. Seuss story on cable On Demand in either 2D or 3D.
Sacha Baron Cohen's joyfully politically incorrect comedy The Dictator costarring Anna Faris and Ben Kingsley was available last week for purchase on other digital services, but now you can rent the unedited version on cable On Demand the same day as it arrives on DVD and Blu-ray.
Tim Allen narrates the moving Disney Nature documentary Chimpanzee about an orphan chimp and how he adapts to a new social circle in order to survive. The G-rated family feature is available to rent the same day as disc.
Based on a true story, the dark comedy Bernie stars Jack Black as the titular small-town Texas mortician who befriends and eventually murders a wealthy widow (Shirley MacLaine). The acclaimed PG-13 film comes to cable the same day as DVD.
Keanu Reeves asked a bunch of top filmmakers to weigh in on the subject of celluloid's passing in the documentary Side by Side, which debates if the death of film in favor of digital is tragic or just the next step in technological evolution. The film is not yet available on DVD, but you can rent it right now on cable On Demand.
The epic action film Solomon Kane based on the 1920s pulp magazine character has been released all over the world in theaters to mostly critical acclaim, but still does not have a release date in the United States. The Michael J. Bassett-directed film starring James Purefoy as the eponymous English mercenary premieres on cable On Demand in America on August 24 at last.
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 service that has all the movies listed above on cable available for rent and/or purchase is iTunes. Vudu offers them all except Solomon Kane, while Amazon has The Lorax, The Dictator, Chimpanzee and Bernie. Blockbuster only has The Lorax and Bernie available on its digital service.
Lucky you if you're a fan of Nicholas Sparks' artificially sweetened romance stories, because The Lucky One starring Zac Efron as a Marine who returns home from Iraq searching for a woman he found a picture of is available to buy—not rent—on Amazon and iTunes a week before it is available on disc.
Curtis "50 Cent" Jackson stars opposite Robert De Niro and Forest Whitaker in the cop drama Freelancers, which is now available to rent or own on all four services.
Dolph Lundgren is currently shooting things up on the big screen with his action-movie peers in The Expendables 2, but you can see him play a seasoned Russian assassin opposite Oscar winner Cuba Gooding Jr. in One in the Chamber, available now on Vudu and Amazon.
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.
One of the best new additions this week to Netflix's Watch Instantly buffet is the delicious documentary Jiro Dreams of Sushi about 85-year-old sushi master chef Jiro Ono and his commitment body and soul to his craft. Speaking of fish, Halle Berry plays a shark whisperer of sorts in the soggy thriller Dark Tide, which is here for those of you still mourning the passing of Shark Week. Also new to Netflix this week is the drama Best Laid Plans, which is loosely based on Of Mice and Men by John Steinbeck.
This seems to be the week a lot of violent action flicks get their walking papers from Netflix. Expiring from the service this week are Bodyguards and Assassins, Lady Vengeance, Sympathy for Mr. Vengeance and Green Street Hooligans 2. The coming-of-age romantic drama Love and Debate starring Gina Philips and the explicit indie-rock romance 9 Songs also retreat into Netflix limbo this week.