business books at the movies

You know, the movie is never as good as the book.

Seems it’s pretty hard to capture the essence of a fictional (or real life) written story into a screenplay. But what kind of huge challenge would be faced when making a non-fiction business book into a movie?

Apparently, we’re going to find out as Malcolm Gladwell‘s Blink is going to be made into a movie starring Al Pacino. (no joke)

Possible Pacino movie quotes from Blink the movie?
(Scent of a Woman flavored) — “Chah-ley, my boy, in the first five seconds after approaching her table, I knew I would tango with her. Hoo-hah! I’m just gettin’ stah-ted!”
(The Godfather flavored) — “Fredo, don’t thin slice anyone against the Family again.”

I digress.

What if this catches on? What if other business books are adapted to the screen?

In Search of Excellence
by Tom Peters and Robert Waterman
Two dudes travel through time collecting important people from business history for an oral presentation in their MBA program.

Guerrilla Marketing
by Jay Conrad Levinson
In 1972, a crack commando marketing unit was sent to prison by a military court for a crime they didn’t commit. These men promptly escaped from a maximum security stockade to the Los Angeles underground. Today, still wanted by the government, they survive as guerrilla marketers. If you have a marketing problem, if no one else can help, and if you can find them, maybe you can hire… The Guerrilla Marketing Team.

The Wealth of Nations
by Adam Smith
Socialists send a cyborg assassin back in time to kill Adam Smith’s mother.

War in the Boardroom
by Al and Laura Ries
An Army Major is assigned a dozen convicted creatives/marketers to train and lead them to infiltrate an off site meeting of CEOs at a chateau in France.

100 Best Business Books of All Time
by Jack Covert and Todd Sattersten
Kramer tries to convince Elaine to pitch his idea for a “business book about business books” to Mr. Lippman.

The Wisdom of Crowds
by James Surowieki
A tidal wave overturns an ocean liner. People must make the decision to stay put with the majority or follow a ragtag group up through the bowels of the ship.

Purple Cow
by Seth Godin
A spider uses outdoor advertising in a high traffic area on the farm to convince others that a cow is “remarkable” and “some cow”

What are your ideas? What biz book would you like to see made into a movie? Leave them in the comments. Also — bonus points for anyone in the comments who can list the movies/tv shows I’ve based these descriptions on.

Chris Houchens is a marketing raconteur & writer. Connect with him on Twitter or Facebook.

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6 comments on “business books at the movies
  1. 1. Outer Limits
    2. Mr. T
    3. Terminator
    4. the movie that had the famous dead football player and Lee Marvin, who probably is dead too.
    5. Seinfeld
    6. Posiden something (Adventure?)
    7. This is a movie that only somebody with small children would know, Shrek?

    (no Google was involved in these answers!)

    Book/Movie: A bunch of young people follow a fast-talker to reach an impossible goal because they all learned how to think. He kept pushing them toward their goal with constant positive reinforcement while keeping the “it can’t be done” establishment at bay.
    Name the book and the movie/play.


  2. Kelly says:


    Totally unbelievable. The audience will be filled with marketing geeks. (I guess I’d better get in line for a ticket now.) There must be something to it, but I can’t tell you how horrible that idea sounds.



    P.S. Is War in the Boardroom The Great Escape?

    Purple Cow is Charlotte’s Web. I loved that description. 🙂

  3. @60 — With no Google, a good effort.
    1 is wrong. For 2, you’re right on one of the actors, but what was the show? 4 was called the Dirty Dozen. For 7, think about Paul Lynne and Henry Gibson. The rest are correct.
    For yours — it’s either the Bad News Bears or Peter Pan.

    @Kelly — camp out in line now. The Boardroom War movie is in the same movie era as the Great Escape, but that’s not it. Charlotte’s Web is correct. I had thought of using Babe for Purple Cow, but figured it as too obscure.

  4. Mel says:

    1. – Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure

    Loved the Charlotte’s Web …

    Let’s do one for – Who Moved the Cheese.. just as it is. 🙂

    And yes there would be a line but would the non marketing people know it was marketing???

  5. No, I’m done. No mas.

    I burned too many brain cells doing this while watching Idol.

    I’m not as good as you are: I was thinking One Minute Manager/ Music Man for my biz book/movie.

    Not easy, well done!

  6. @Mel — Good job. You got the final one! So, officially, the answers are:
    1. Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure
    2. The A-Team
    3. Terminator
    4. The Dirty Dozen
    5. Seinfeld
    6. The Poseidon Adventure (old skool Gene Hackman version)
    7. Charlotte’s Web

    @60 — need to pace yourself with that media center.