'Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs' (Sony)The war for your wallet may be shifting from DVD stores to your living room. Just yesterday, our own Jessica Barnes described the price war between Walmart, Target and Amazon as the three retailers have temporarily slashed their profits and passed the savings on to you. Now comes word that Sony will pre-empt retailers by making their animated hit Cloudy With a Chance of Meatballs available exclusively to owners of selected Sony television sets and networked Blu-ray players more than a month before it's released on DVD. Sony, however, expects you to slash your savings and pass the profits on to them, charging $24.95 for a rental.

That's a big chunk of change for a pay-per-view movie, dramatically higher than cable and satellite systems charge for pay-per-view flicks in their window of availability before DVD and Blu-ray release. Details from a business standpoint are provided in The New York Times -- the higher price is meant to avoid angering Walmart, the largest and thus most powerful DVD retailer in the country, and the move is part of Sony's strategy to leverage its ownership of both hardware (TVs, Blu-ray players) and software (movies, television) production. I'm sure Sony shareholders will be pleased.

What about the consumer? In his Home Theater blog for ZDNET, Sean Portnoy wonders: "In this economy, is being able to rent this successful movie a few weeks ahead of the masses really worth an extra $20? In fact, if you're using Netflix or renting at $1 per night through Redbox, the pricing difference is even starker." Sony tried this last year with Will Smith and Hancock, but economic times are even more difficult now. Will you pay $25 for Meatballs?