December 17, 2019 1:44 pm

What should Columbia Pictures do with their movie vault?

What should Columbia Pictures do with their movie vault?
Credit: Official Taxi Driver image

Columbia Pictures has an exceptional film back catalog, so what could that mean for its movie vault’s future in streaming?

Housed within studio parent Sony Pictures, Columbia is also under the same umbrella as the indie/arthouse Sony Pictures Classics, Inc. Right now, the only real streaming possibility for these movies is Crackle, which is ad-supported and free for consumers.

But will there be bigger plans on the horizon for Sony and Columbia Pictures in terms of expanding their streaming ventures?

Columbia Pictures: A rich history & “Big Six” member


Its first release in 1924, Discontented Husbands, was a silent film, so Columbia is steeped in a tradition of excellence. It’s one of the “Big Six” major film studios and continues to put out quality efforts.

With a whopping 56 nominations and 12 Oscar wins for Best Picture, there’s such a great catalog of Columbia classics. The Last Emperor (1987) was the last such golden statue recipient.

That’s just the tip of the iceberg. Marlon Brando’s performance in On the Waterfront revolutionized acting. The Bridge on the River Kwai has inspired countless films.

Director Sir David Lean’s followup to that iconic movie was even grander: Lawrence of Arabia. It’s Steven Spielberg’s favorite film of all-time.


Then of course there’s Spielberg’s Close Encounters of the Third Kind, Martin Scorsese’s Taxi Driver and even the original Ghostbusters. The list goes on!

Sony Crackle expansion or a new streamer?

In late March, Sony announced it sold its stake in Crackle, launching a joint venture with CSS Entertainment called Crackle Plus. CSS later stated that wouldn’t be the commercial name, so it’s a bit confusing. Crackle.com is still the place to go for streaming.

It’d ultimately make sense, though, to consolidate everything Sony and Columbia Pictures under one big streaming roof someday. It’s a way to lure prospective subscribers.

Collector’s editions of these films tend to be pricey. Plus, the convenience streaming provides makes this an eventual no-brainer.


Crackle has some original programming. It also has content partnerships with all the other major studios. However, it doesn’t get the most prestigious items from those catalogs, much less from Columbia. That’s where Columbia Pictures’ movie vault would come in serious handy.

Follow an HBO Max blueprint?

Lastly, the yet-to-be-launched HBO Max revealed at its big media day that it’s placing a premium on classic movies. Warner Bros. is trying to set a trend there, and it’s something Columbia Pictures should definitely capitalize on.

Sony and Columbia are left wanting in terms of major franchises, save for Spider-Man. That’s especially so in comparison to Warner Bros. (owns DC Comics properties) and Disney (Star Wars, Marvel, etc).

Streaming Columbia Pictures’ best movies on a new hosting platform is one way to stand out from the cord-cutting competition. However, it remains to be seen if that’ll ever come to pass.

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