“Once I open the vault,” Jerry Seinfeld once said, “it ceases to be a vault.” Such quandaries do not seem to be an obstacle for Paramount Pictures, which has recently launched a YouTube Channel called the Paramount Vault where it will be making many of its full-length motion pictures available for free streaming. Since the studio is responsible for such popular films as Grease, Airplane!, Top Gun, Sunset Boulevard, Clueless, and Ghost, as well as such mighty franchises as Star Trek, Transformers, and Indiana Jones, this is potentially big news. But viewers should not expect to find all of those titles on YouTube immediately. Paramount is not just throwing open the doors of its formerly sacrosanct vault and letting internet freeloaders run in and grab whatever they want, whenever they want. This is more of a time-release, slow-dissolving vault. As Britt Hayes of ScreenCrush puts it, “It’s unclear if these titles will be available permanently, or if Paramount will have a rotating library with current titles expiring and new titles being uploaded regularly.” Paramount’s sizzle reel promises Captain Kirk, Tony Manero, and Cher Horowitz, but those folks will have to wait their turn.
As it is, the Paramount Vault already has plenty of hours of free-of-charge entertainment awaiting the adventurous viewer. Under the science fiction category, for instance, Mystery Science Theater 3000 fans can see the “raw,” original versions of The Deadly Bees and The Space Children, as well as such cult favorites I Married A Monster From Outer Space and the infamous Masters Of The Universe adaptation. Paramout’s horror stash, meanwhile, includes Tobe Hooper’s gonzo sequel The Texas Chainsaw Massacre 2 and the indescribable Marcel Marceau vehicle Shanks, among others. Among the designated Paramount classics, perhaps the most striking selection is Bernardo Bertolucci’s once-controversial 1900 from 1976, starring Robert De Niro. Those without the patience for full-length movies will find clips to share and comedic moments, too, as well as a smattering of digital series. Viewers might well find themselves wandering around in the Paramount Vault for hours or days, unaware of how much time they’ve been spending there. To again quote Jerry Seinfeld: “Oy, the vault!”