Movies can be a great source of entertainment and inspiration, and a good way to extend your knowledge base.
You probably already know, if you’re familiar with Amazon, that the online retail site has a video streaming service. It makes available to its Amazon Prime customers thousands of video titles for free, and you can also rent or purchase several other new and classic videos. There is so much to pick from, though, that it can be a touch daunting.
The films below provide valuable lessons on several entrepreneur-relevant subjects. I’ve sorted these films under key topics to help you get the most out of your movie-watching experience and categorized them as available to rent through Amazon, or available to watch for free through Amazon Prime.
These 10 films go beyond entertainment: they set high expectations and illustrate the talents and motivation you would need to be a star, as well as a caution about greed and corruption.
Stories that bring Wall Street to life
These documentaries capture some of the most interesting true tales of Wall Street, from crooked stockbrokers to astute hedge fund managers.
1. The Wolf of Wall Street – available for rent through Amazon
A crazy, over-the-top tale that happens to be based on a real story is told in this hit movie. The story revolves around Jordan Belfort (played by Leonardo DiCaprio), a scam-artist stockbroker, who takes an entry-level job at a Wall Street trading company.
The Wolf of Wall Street starring Leonardo DiCaprio tells a real tale with the storyline revolving around a scam-artist stockbroker, Jordan Belfort. He’s taken on a simple role at a brokerage company on Wall Street. The film reveals that Belfort was a wealthy businessman who had created something out of nothing. However, because of deceit and greed, the business could not be profitable. For young entrepreneurs, this might be a perfect experience as it illustrates that they shouldn’t be crooks.
What to look for: Belfort was a brilliant visionary who created something out of nothing successfully, but sadly, his enterprise was rife with greed and deception. This story brings valuable lessons to entrepreneurs, not the least of which is: Don’t be a crook.
2. The Big Short – watch for free through Amazon Prime
The Big Short tells the story of a group of administrators and founders of Wall Street funds who were able to predict the looming housing market crash even before it started to implode in 2007 and 2008. The film chronicles the work of hedge fund manager Michael Burry (played by Christian Bale), who learns that toxic subprime mortgages are packaged into AAA-rated prime mortgage-backed securities offered to buyers by financial institutions. He knows that the U.S. housing market is perched atop a massive bubble of assets that is about to break.
What to look for: As the mortgage market tanks, Burry creates a credit default swap that helps him to short or gamble on certain bonds, giving his owners a bundle of money. The greatest lesson here is that Burry stuck to his guns and his gamble paid off when everyone else scoffed at him because they thought the competition was unbreakable.
The story behind American icon Walt Disney
Walt Disney was a pioneer in the film industry and animation. A closer insight at his backstory and the artistic process he used to create his famous characters is taken from these movies.
3. Saving Mr. Banks – rent through Amazon
This film tells the tale behind the journey of Walt Disney to secure the rights to P.L. Travers’s Mary Poppins story. Travers rebuffs any offer he makes, amid Disney’s best intentions, because she fears Disney’s interpretation of her story will not be true to the characters she has made. In an attempt to turn the book into a movie script, she criticizes any move in the process, almost upending the film.
What to watch for: The subtle way this case is treated by Disney. He should have let the project sink quickly or attempted to compel Travers to cooperate with it. Instead, he wants to understand her problems better and to hear her out. He finally finds a way to win her over, and his tenacity results in a movie that for years to come has received widespread praise and viewer adoration.
4. Walt Before Mickey – available for free through Amazon Prime
Although you have certainly read of the many successes of Walt Disney, you may not be familiar with the many obstacles he encountered on the road to success. In animated films, Walt Before Mickey portrays a variety of failures Disney had to tackle as he doggedly developed a career for himself. This is the tale of the early years of Disney. Disney produced another popular animated character, Oswald Bunny until he created Mickey Mouse. But Disney did not own the character’s copyright, and he had to let go of Oswald.
What to look out for: One of the many things he learned on the bumpy path to success is owning your job, and a good one to take away from this film for entrepreneurs. He was at his fourth animation company by the time Walt produced Mickey, and it’s the one that stuck: Walt Disney Studios.
Stories behind famous business feuds
Businesses have feuded for several causes throughout history. These disputes sometimes turn epic and may bring corporations to the edge or catapult them to new heights.
5. Ford v Ferrari – rent through Amazon
The then-president of automaker Ford, Henry Ford II, wanted to buy luxury sports car company Ferrari in the 1960s, but the offer fell apart at the last minute. Ford v Ferrari stars Matt Damon and Christian Bale and chronicles how the disappointment of Henry Ford II turned into vengeance, leading him to build a new car at Le Mans, the oldest competitive sports car endurance race in the world, that could beat Ferrari’s model.
What to watch for: Remember how Ferrari managers do not take Ford as a rival seriously, and the impact it has. The film also reveals how multiple middle managers move through Ford’s project, which probably lowers the overall productivity of their tasks.
6. Adidas vs. Puma: The Brothers’ Feud – watch for free through Amazon Prime
The film portrays the story behind two of the most successful shoe firms in the world, arising from a brutal family rivalry that not only pitted two brothers against each other but also separated the residents of their small German hometown. Note: this is a German-language film with subtitles in English.
What to look for: The rivalry between these two brands went way beyond industry competition, but it still inevitably forced both businesses to succeed. The film reveals how the creation of two of the world’s most successful sporting franchises originated from numerous market approaches. In the end, the question arises: if it were not for this family competition, would these firms be where they are today?
The story behind the world’s largest fast-food chain
McDonald’s is arguably the world’s biggest fast-food restaurant and has revolutionized our eating habits, for better or for worse. The origin story behind McDonald’s gives fascinating insights into how when individuals can work beyond the box to address consumer challenges, creativity is born.
7. The Founder – rent through Amazon.
The McDonald’s empire we know today is largely due to a guy whose last name is not McDonald’s. During a time when drive-ins were still king, the McDonald brothers debuted a groundbreaking kitchen assembly line in 1948. Join Ray Kroc, who delivered some of the McDonald brothers’ milkshake blenders in 1954. Kroc was delighted by what they had made, and he had a vision of how their “golden arches” could be taken from coast to coast. Eventually, Kroc purchased the corporation and the rights to the McDonald’s brand. The organization is worth over 100 billion dollars today, and Kroc is considered its founder.
What to look for: The film not only shows how important it is to never give up; it also shines a light on other corporate issues, such as the importance of getting a strong staff, and why it’s important to get all legalities in order.
8. The Real Founder – watch for free through Amazon prime
The Actual Founder includes an interview with Dick McDonald, who founded the restaurant chain McDonald’s, along with his brother Maurice. Dick McDonald gives his side of the story, explaining how in Southern California they opened a drive-in restaurant, which became one of the most popular in town.
What to watch for: This documentary will give you a new view if you have seen The Maker. The True Founder gives the backstory of how even before Ray Kroc was part of the picture, the McDonald brothers came up with their ideas to speed up a food delivery, and even started franchising the restaurant.
Stories of women inventors who succeeded and failed
The main elements of success always come down to drive, determination, and talent; however, as these films illustrate, you need to follow it up with a good product that delivers as advertised.
9. Joy – rent through Amazon
This film captures a female entrepreneur’s struggles and has a beautiful message for all women trying to create a prosperous enterprise. Joy is based on the life of a self-made millionaire named Joy Mangano, who built a business empire.
What to watch for: This movie is about smashing the glass ceiling and overcoming all odds. But the best lesson here is that you need to get ready to go to battle every day, rain or shine if you want to create a large, profitable business. Success means being able to wage a war on many fronts.
10. The Inventor: Out for Blood in Silicon Valley – watch for free through Amazon Prime
This documentary follows the story of Elizabeth Holmes, the founder of Theranos, a start-up company that analyses blood. She led the public to believe that, with only a single finger poke, her system, the Edison, could conduct hundreds of blood tests. Since it was all a fabrication, she was later wrongly convicted.
What to look for: Holmes was talented at telling a plot that drew viewers in and made them want to believe her. From the way she masterfully invited partners to fund her, entrepreneurs will understand. Yet she declined to listen to anyone criticizing her practices as well. Effective entrepreneurs listen to suggestions and promote dialogue that is open and reflective.
Entrepreneurs require rest, too. And if you’re not running your own business, but want to be one day, watching business-themed films rather than wasting time on useless TV shows is a smart idea. Who knows, maybe you can learn something different or get excited by new thoughts.
What if you’re not a businessman? Yeah, that’s also sorted out. These films could give you an idea of the life of an entrepreneur. Or you might be inspired by these films. Maybe for industry & businessmen, you get a new view. Or for amusement only. Or you might get to know the journey of wealthy, popular entrepreneurs.