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.
In Contraband, Mark Wahlberg flexes his guns as former ace smuggler Chris Farraday who is trying to make an honest living for his wife (Kate Beckinsale) and two sons but is forced out of retirement when his brother-in-law botches a drug deal for a local kingpin (Giovanni Ribisi). This gritty thriller immerses you in the violent, cutthroat world of international smuggling and is available on On Demand the same day as DVD and Blu-ray.
The universally praised drama Pariah is an expansion of writer-director Dee Rees's award-winning short film about a 17-year-old Brooklyn girl (Adepero Oduye) who is growing into her identity as a lesbian and dealing with a family in complete denial. This coming-out/coming-of-age indie also arrives on On Demand the same day as disc.
Halle Berry swims with sharks, literally, in the action thriller Dark Tide until her mentor is gobbled by a great white and she becomes a wildlife tour guide. Berry is lured back in the water when her old partner (Olivier Martinez) shows up and convinces her to lead a thrill-seeking millionaire on a dangerous dive outside the shark cage in this fishy flick that is available on DVD, Blu-ray and VOD.
The Chinese action film Let the Bullets Fly starring Chow Yun-Fat and Jiang Wen is set in the Chinese province of Sichuan in the 1920s as a bandit descends on a town posing as its new mayor. It is available on On Demand the same day as disc.
Made with the support of Bob Marley's family, Marley is the definitive documentary of the reggae legend and features rare performances and interviews. If you want to see this doc on DVD or Blu-ray, you will have to wait until August 7, but you can rent it right now on cable On Demand.
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.
As we reported last week, Contraband is already available to download to own but is now also available to rent on all four VOD services. Of the other movies listed above as available on cable On Demand, all four are available for download or rent on Vudu and iTunes. Amazon offers Pariah, Dark Tide and Marley, while Blockbuster only offers Dark Tide via streaming.
Unlike the damsel in distress she plays in Contraband, Kate Beckinsale returns as fierce vampire warrior Selene in the exciting sequel Underworld: Awakening to do battle with supersized Lycans and a new threat—humans. This fourth Underworld odyssey is not available on disc until May 8, but you can download it to own (not rent) right now on Amazon, Vudu and iTunes. Vudu also offers a free 10 minute preview of the film before you decide to buy.
Greg Kinnear plays a small-time insurance agent looking for one big score to get him out of frigid Wisconsin in Thin Ice, which co-stars Alan Arkin and Billy Crudup. The ensemble caper flick won't be available on DVD and Blu-ray until June, but you can rent it (not download to own) right now on all four services.
The period romance Young Goethe in Love follows aspiring poet Johann Goethe after he fails his law exams and is sent by his father to a sleepy provincial court to mend his way where he falls in love with a woman whose hand was promised to another man. Young Goethe in Love is available to rent or purchase now on Amazon, 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.
Noteworthy newbies to the Netflix Watch Instantly library include Mel Gibson's bloody The Passion of the Christ, the cult classic Donnie Darko starring Jake Gyllenhaal, Emilio Estevez's The Way starring Martin Sheen, and the South Korean action film War of the Arrows.
Expiring from Netflix Watch Instantly by the end of the week are Saw VI, Who Is Harry Nilsson (And Why Is Everyone Talkin' About Him)? and a long list of older films, including Our Town, The Boy with Green Hair, My Favorite Brunette, Rain, Happy Go Lovely, Three Came Home, In Old California, Love Laughs at Andy Hardy, Iron Mask, Heartbeat and The Stork Club.