Sony Pictures Core: price, availability, movie selection and quality (2024)

By John Archer

published

Everything you need to know about Sony's own high-quality movie streaming service

Sony Pictures Core: price, availability, movie selection and quality (1)

Sony Pictures Core (previously known as Bravia Core) is Sony's high-end movie streaming service. It promises picture quality to rival 4K Blu-ray, a large selection ofIMAX Enhancedmovies and the latest box office releases from Sony Pictures. But is it right for you? And how can you get it? Here's everything you need to know about Sony Pictures Core...

Sony Pictures Core is a streaming service with a difference. Or quite a few differences, actually. Starting with the fact that it is not currently available on any devices that aren’t made by Sony.

For much of its three-year life, in fact, Sony Pictures Core was available – under its previous Bravia Core name – exclusively on Sony TVs. Playback was later enabled for Sony’s Xperia smartphones, too, and then in October 2023 the service’s availability was finally extended to two other key members of the Sony product family: the PlayStation 5 and PlayStation 4 games consoles.

Since the Bravia part of the old Bravia Core name referred specifically to Sony’s TV technologies, it made sense for Sony to change the service’s name to Sony Pictures Core when it was expanded out to the PlayStation family. But we’d also say the new name more accurately reflects the fact that all of the service’s content comes from Sony’s own film and TV studios (including the Crunchyroll anime streamer Sony bought in 2021).

Free movies for Sony owners

Sony Pictures Core: price, availability, movie selection and quality (2)

With most streaming services, of course, the idea is to be as widely available as possible. With Sony Pictures Core, though, Sony seems to see the service more as a way of driving purchases of its TVs and games consoles. A notion backed up by the fact that from the moment the service launched as Bravia Core in 2021, Sony TV buyers have been entitled to a number of free recent release movie purchase credits, as well as free access to a curated selection of up to 100 movies from the service’s back catalogue. A classic ‘buy this TV, get free movies’ marketing promo.

The exact number of movie credits and the length of free catalogue access you get depends on the Sony TV you’ve bought. Buy a premium model and you’ll earn 15 free ‘new release’ permanent purchase credits and two years of access to the curated back catalogue titles. Mid-range Sony TVs see the free movie token offer drop to 10, while more entry-level models get you five new release purchase tokens and a year’s subscription to the curated (and regularly updated) back catalogue selection. You should check the small print of any Sony TV you’re thinking of buying to see how much Sony Pictures Core access your TV purchase is getting you.

PlayStation Plus subscribers, meanwhile, bag new free movie credits on the service too, with PlayStation Plus Premium members getting access to the 100 or so curated movie catalogue.

Prices for additional movie rentals and purchases

Sony Pictures Core: price, availability, movie selection and quality (3)

Sony TV purchase and PS Plus subscription rewards are, of course, not the only way to access content on Sony Pictures Core. You can also rent or buy extra titles, with the amount varying between £13.99 and £7.99 in the UK to buy recent releases, and between £5.49 and £3.49 to rent films where a rental option is available.

Sony claims that there are up to 2000 titles available to rent or buy across the whole of Sony Pictures Core, some available with bonus content such as director’s commentaries and exclusive offers. At the time of writing, titles available went as recent as 2024’s Anyone But You and Tarot, and as old as 1939’s Mr. Smith Goes To Washington – with a huge range of classics across the decades in between. Honestly, it only takes a few moments browsing Sony Pictures Core’s catalogue to come away amazed at just how many classics Sony owns the rights to.

Sony Pictures Core streaming quality

That said, it’s not so much the quantity of content on Sony Pictures Core that’s its main attraction as it is its quality. Starting with the fact that the service claims to support the highest streaming bandwidths in the video streaming world. So while Netflix and Prime Video get by on data rates of under 25Mbps and Apple TV+ tops out at 40Mbps, Sony Pictures Core uses a technology it calls PureStream to support rates up to 80Mbps.

Obviously, this depends on your own broadband system being able to carry such rates. In fact, Sony recommends that your broadband supports rates up to 115Mbps or higher to ensure you enjoy the full-quality Sony Pictures Core experience without buffering, with a minimum of 43Mbps required before the PureStream technology even kicks in.

The PureStream name accurately describes why the sort of streaming bandwidths the Sony Pictures Core service offers matter; basically, the higher the bandwidth of a digital video signal, the less that signal should have to be compressed. And the less a video stream has to be compressed, the sharper, cleaner and more natural the resulting video playback should look.

Unfortunately, PureStream is only available via Sony TVs. Via the PS5 or PS4, movies are streamed at the sort of bit-rates that are common with rival streaming services.

IMAX Enhanced content on Sony Pictures Core

Sony Pictures Core: price, availability, movie selection and quality (4)

At least as important as the unique streaming speeds supported by Sony Pictures Core is the quality of the masters it provides. Pretty much every remotely recent release is available in 4K resolution and high dynamic range, and Sony has been pretty busy remastering a fair number of its old catalogue titles in 4K too.

Sony Pictures has also been the most enthusiastic embracer of the IMAX Enhanced home video system. Full details about this can be found in our IMAX Enhanced explainer, but briefly, IMAX Enhanced involves three key features. First, titles are scanned and mastered in 4K HDR using a special IMAX system that’s designed to enhance the clarity and colour of the resulting home video presentations, as well as remove excess noise and grain.

Second, where a film features sections shot in IMAX’s relatively tall 1.9:1 aspect ratio, those sections will appear in that ratio, even if the rest of the film is shown in a wider aspect ratio.

Finally, IMAX Enhanced titles are accompanied by special ‘signature’ DTS audio mixes that are apparently designed to deliver more of the full dynamism of an IMAX theatrical release’s audio track. These IMAX Enhanced DTS:X tracks can now be output from Sony TVs to compatible AV receivers and soundbars using HDMI’s eARC functionality.

At the time of writing, Sony Pictures Core carries 157 IMAX Enhanced titles – including, surprisingly, a few golden oldies such as Easy Rider and Gandhi alongside the more expected modern releases and classics.

As well as all the IMAX Enhanced titles on Sony Pictures Core adding DTS soundtracks to their specially mastered pictures, many of the other recent and semi-recent non-IMAX films the service carries are accompanied by Dolby Atmos sound mixes.

Is Sony Pictures Core any good?

So does all of this impressive technical spec really add up to a superior streaming experience? We’d say it really does, actually. Provided you have the broadband speed for it and remember to activate the PureStream technology via the app’s Settings (it’s off by default), a full 80Mbps Sony Pictures Core 4K HDR experience really does look cleaner (especially in dark areas), crisper, more detailed and more dynamic than the streams of any other service. Though Apple TV can get quite close with some of its best-looking shows.

We wouldn’t say Sony Pictures Core’s performance is quite up there with good 4K Blu-ray image quality, but it delivers some supremely engaging images by streaming standards – especially with many of its IMAX Enhanced titles.

So if you’re the proud owner of a fairly recent Sony TV and haven’t yet explored what Sony Pictures Core has to offer, you really owe it to yourself to check it out. Especially as the tokens you earned when you bought your TV mean you can check out the service’s quality across a decent number of films without having to spend a single extra penny.

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