The lessons in business movies are practical case studies for every business and non-business persons.
The plight of an entrepreneur in business movies may be dramatized.
Yet these movies do a good job in providing an insight into the daily struggles of real world entrepreneurs suffering real consequences.
The top business movies are educative, provocative, entertaining, and sometimes based on real life events.
34 Best Business Movies for Entrepreneurs
Here’s our list of must see business movies of all time every entrepreneur should watch.
#1. The Wolf of Wall Street (2013 Movie)
The Wolf of Wall Street is a jet-black sex and drug-soaked comedy featuring a bravura performance by Leonardo DiCaprio.
This movie is an outrageous and repugnant reflection of something very real – and very rotten – at the core of our society.
The Wolf of Wall Street is about the influence of capitalism and American dream chasing behind money.
The movie received mostly positive reviews from critics, with praise for the comedic performance of DiCaprio and the fast-paced and consistent humor.
You can literally feel goose bumps in every passing second of the movie.
#2. The Big Short (2015)
The Big Short movie is based on the book of the same name. This is a comedy-drama film about the almost impossible levels of corruption and stupidity that caused the world-crippling financial crisis from 2007 to 2010.
The movie is fascinating, funny, and deeply depressing. If you’re not cynical about the world yet, then you will be after the Big Short movie.
The story follows a few different groups of people around 2005 who stumble onto signs that big investment banks are selling bonds made of home mortgages that were trash. They decide to bet that the bonds would eventually fail, which would make them rich.
One of the themes of the Big Short movie is that regular people had no idea what was going to happen because they were too distracted by other things and weren’t paying attention to their own circumstances.
This theme is illustrated by periodic montages of pop culture and media that interrupt the flow of the ever-deepening sense of dread building up in the main story.
This is a smart movie that requires a lot of concentration. But the talented cast and the careful script make it easier to follow. This is a socially important movie if you want to keep informed about what’s really going on around you. Just remember, this is a true story, and you already know that there is no happy ending.
#3. The Social Network (2010)
The Social Network is a 2010 American biographical drama film.
It charts Facebook’s Mark Zuckerberg course from callow, socially-inept Harvard programmer to callow, socially-inept business tycoon.
If you’re looking for a case study on why you shouldn’t start a business with friends (or smart mouth opposing counsel), this movie is for you.
#4. The Pursuit Happyness (2006)
A touching movie that illustrates the importance of perseverance.
The Pursuit of Happyness is a 2006 American biographical drama film based on entrepreneur Chris and his son.
Evicted from their apartment, he and his young son find themselves alone with no place to go. Even though Chris eventually lands a job as an intern at a prestigious brokerage firm, the position pays no money. The pair must live in shelters and endure many hardships, but Chris refuses to give in to despair as he struggles to create a better life for himself and his son.
#5. Office Space (1999)
An American comedy movie that satirizes corporate culture of a 1990s software company, touching upon work relationships and office politics.
Office Space is a good laugh and will definitely get you thinking about leadership, team-building techniques, and career development.
Other topics covered include corporate culture, mentoring, career development, work-life balance, personnel retention, team-building techniques and management of information technology.
#6. American Gangster (2007)
The quintessential entrepreneurial flick if you’re looking to sell “Blue Magic” heroin. This Frank Lucas biopic covers all the bases manufacturing, distribution, finance, management, and even branding. And it does it far better than similar films like New Jack City or Blow.
#7. Lord of War (2005)
A dark comedy with a good bit of action. Lord of War, a war-crime film chronicles the life of Yuri Orlov (Nicolas Cage), an immigrant from Ukraine who decides his route to success is through illegal gun trade.
Morality aside, Yuri’s ambition, tenacity, and ability to tolerate risk demonstrate the very qualities successful entrepreneurs are known for.
This movie delves deeply into topics like growth hacking, emerging markets, creative problem solving, crisis management, geopolitics, competitive strategies, building customer loyalty, and negotiation techniques.
#8. Boiler Room (2000)
You are the sum of your decisions. But those decisions don’t just taint you. Cutting corners have devastating legal, financial, and personal consequences for your business partners and loved ones too.
Welcome to the infamous “boiler room” — where twenty something millionaires are made overnight. Here, in the inner sanctum of a fly-by-night brokerage firm, hyper-aggressive young stock jocks peddle to unsuspecting buyers over the phone — and are rewarded with mansions, Ferraris and more luxury toys than they know what to do with. In this unassuming Long Island enclave, Gen Xers chase the green at breakneck speeds, sometimes one step ahead of the law.
#9. Enron: The Smartest Guys in the Room (2005)
Enron is based on the best-selling book of the same name by reporters Bethany McLean and Peter Elkind, which touches upon one of the largest business scandals in American history — the collapse of the Enron Corporation.
This movie documentary explores the fall of the Enron Corporation, arguably the most shocking example of modern corporate corruption. The company is linked with several illegal schemes, including instigating the California energy crisis as a way to drive up utility prices at the expense of the average American.
In a hyper-competitive environment, Enron traders resort to all kinds of underhanded dealings in order to make money at any cost and keep their high-paying jobs.
This movie is a must watch for a history buff or anyone looking for a thought-provoking and shocking example of modern corporate corruption.
#10. Rogue Trader (1999)
Based on a true story of the employee who single handedly brought down the Barings Bank, the largest bank in England. The Rogue Trader shows how money drives all sorts of maniacal behavior, and serves as a cautionary tale about people who falsely assume that power and money make them indispensable.
#11. Wall Street (1987)
If you’ve ever found yourself pushed to your limits in the pursuit of power and success, Wall Street is the movie for you.
It unravels this theme through the eyes of Bud Fox (Charlie Sheen), an ambitious stockbroker who navigates the economic rollercoaster of Wall Street, adopting the “greed is good” mantra.
Some of the themes in this movie are corporate finance, portfolio management, investment law principles and capital markets.
It goes further to tell the story of a young, susceptible mind, showing how easy it is to get carried away with the glamorous lifestyle that accompanies wealth. The Wall Street movie is a tamer and more socially-critical version of The Wolf of Wall Street.
#12. Glengarry Glen Ross (1992)
Think sales is a cushy gig where you can hit the links on Friday?
I can almost imagine Alec Baldwin frothing at the mouth and calling you a loser!
Yes, sales is the heart of any business, where you go out and earn your job every day!
Whether you’re a Ricky Roma or a Shelley Levine, that pace eventually proves too much.
Eventually, it makes them callous and desperate.
Keep a close eye on your people and know when it’s time to make the cut.
This movie is based on the award-winning play about four real estate salesmen whose jobs are on the line when the corporate office announces that in one week all except the top two men will be fired.
Glengarry Glen Ross is an entertaining showcase of competition and manipulation.
If you’re starting a new business, be forewarned: sometimes the road to success is far sketchier than you think.
In this movie, you’ll learn about sales techniques, customer relationship management, negotiations and deal closings.
#13. The Godfather Trilogy (1972)
This movie is possibly the all-time best business movie for entrepreneurs, highlighting why relationships and building networks matter, why helping people lends itself to good business, and why understanding competition is non-negotiable.
The Godfather Trilogy are intensely entertaining, packed with thrilling and thought provoking scenes that will leave you better prepared to handle your next business challenge.
#14. Startup.com (2001)
A documentary business movie that examines the rise and fall of the real-life startup GovWorks that raised $60 million from Hearst Interactive Media, KKR, the New York Investment Fund, and Sapient.
A good documentary film to better understand the boom and bust of the dotcom period.
Topics covered in this film include finance for entrepreneurs, capital raising, entrepreneurship skills, growth management, team building and management skills.
#15. Catch Me If You Can (2002)
This film is about a successful con artist Frank Abagnale (Leonardo DiCaprio) who deceptively charms just about anyone with his skill mastery.
Based on a true story, Catch Me If You Can is a classic movie that exemplifies the entrepreneurial journey.
It touches upon some important themes like creative problem solving, turning something good out of a bad situation, and the good old hustle to reach success.
#16. The Usual Suspects (1995)
This is a must-watch movie if you enjoy a good psychological thriller with an ambitious, twist ending.
The Usual Suspect tells the story of a group of professional criminals who find themselves in the same police lineup and decide to team up and pull a lucrative heist.
The movie explores themes like leadership consolidation, power and influence, collaboration and long-term business strategy, which serve as valuable insight for established and aspiring young entrepreneurs.
#17. Bull Durham (1987)
“Baseball’s a very simple game. You throw the ball. You hit the ball. And you catch the ball. Some days you win, and some days you lose. And some days it rains, and you don’t get to play. But YOU DRESS FOR THEM ALL”.
#18. The Maltese Falcon
“When a man’s partner is killed, he’s supposed to do something about it. It doesn’t make any difference what you thought of him. He was your partner and you’re supposed to do something about it. And it happens we’re in the detective business. Well, when one of your organization gets killed, it’s bad business to let the killer get away with it, bad all around, bad for every detective everywhere.”
#19. A Few Good Men (1992)
“What did we do wrong? Colonel Jessup ordered the Code Red! We did nothing wrong!”
“Yeah, we did. We were supposed to fight for people who can’t fight for themselves. We were supposed to fight for Willie.”
#20. Pretty Woman (1990)
“Pretty Woman” actually has a few direct and indirect messages that relate to business: what constitutes good business versus profitable enterprise.
Maintaining professionalism regardless of circumstances and perceptions (because you could be burning a very lucrative relationship).
Seeing the potential in what others might deem worthless and making something great out of it.
#21. The Devil Wears Prada (2006)
This movie will motivate you to take the plunge and pursue your dream job.
The Devil Wears Prada shows how to handle uncomfortable situations, how to navigate worlds that seem unfamiliar, and how hard work pays off eventually.
It’s an interesting window into the fashion industry and will teach you a thing or two on how to work your way up the corporate ladder.
#22. The Corporation (2004)
The Corporation is a 2003 Canadian documentary film with great representations of sales culture, which is something that permeates most companies to a greater or lesser degree.
The documentary film is critical of the modern-day corporation, considering its legal status as a class of person and evaluating its behaviour towards society and the world at large as a psychiatrist might evaluate an ordinary person.
#23. Jerry Maguire (1996)
Having a conscience might not help your company produce fantastic quarterly results, but it can help you succeed in the long-term. Plus, the importance of trust and relationships.
I remember seeing this movie when it first came out and just loving it right from the start. It’s happy at times, it’s depressing at times. It’s funny the whole time. If you haven’t seen this, you’re behind the times. It’s not the greatest movie ever made, but it’s really good.
#24. Erin Brockovich (2000)
Erin Brockovich is a legal drama based on the true story of a woman who, against all odds, helps win the largest settlement ever paid in a direct-action lawsuit.
The movie embodies female empowerment and underscores the importance of sticking to one’s scruples even in the face of obstacles.
Erin Brockovich touches upon themes like corporate social responsibility, sustainable business models and gender biases in business.
#25. The Big Kahuna (2000)
Looking to close that job-saving client? Don’t liquor him up in a Wichita hospitality suite. Try talking to him about his passions first. This Kevin Spacey vehicle is an allegorical reminder that business is based on personal relationships, first-and-foremost.
This play-based indie movie centers around three disheartened lubricant salesmen holed up in a hospitality suite, where they discuss everything from marriage and business to spirituality and God.
With the simplest premise, this movie has a lot to say about society and the human condition in general. It’s intelligent without trying to be, and that’s what makes it great.
Try to watch the entire movie before turning it off. The movie is fully of clever dialog, the acting is great, and the second part is especially thoughtful. The movie is based on a play, so it has a “play” feel to it. Again, this isn’t an action movie; if you want action, then I’d recommend not watching it.
#26. In Good Company (2005)
What do companies lose when they push aside experienced hands for business school prodigies? Are companies merely pawns to be sold off in search of that elusive “synergy?” As Teddy K. would say, “You ask some excellent, excellent questions. And I’m leaving it to you, all of you, to answer them.”
This movie is about a young fellow being put in charge of men twice his age at a company and realizing that he is not as knowledgeable and ready to lead as the men he leads who are twice his age. It is a really wonderful film about life and maturity and how you deal with crises in your love life and your professional life.
In Good Company is not a complex film. It is not cynical. It is not maudlin. It has a well-crafted story which is complimented by expert film making and some truly great acting. This is a highly recommended American film, one which will stand up to repeated viewings as the years go by.
#27. Batman Begins (2005)
Keep your guard up: Your mentor may not have your best interests at heart. And always capitalize on your advantages (such as an in-house arsenal).
First of all, forget your memories of Burton’s films of Batman because this is much, much different.
Batman Begins, quite literally, spends its time showing the audience just how Bruce Wayne developed his alter-ego and then put that other side of him into effect so that he might make Gotham City a better place.
The villain in this movie is based on fear. Fear can control, can infiltrate hate, can skew logic, and can make people weak with the inability to act. Bruce suffered from fear for most of his life which turned into hate and loathing. The people of Gotham City live in fear and distress, unable to lift themselves out of the mire because of that fear.
It is the process of overcoming the psychosis of fear that makes this film so fascinating. Batman Begins, like the comic books, is something we can relate to and allows us to empathize with the characters. This is the true story of finding one’s identity and fighting fear arises.
#28. For Richer, for Poorer (1992)
It’s about a man who built a supermarket empire, only to see his useless son being a lay-about and living like a typical annoying rich kid.
Jack Lemmon’s character is so frustrated and annoyed with his son, he sells off the company and goes bankrupt on purpose in an effort to teach his kid that there is more to life than money. Great film.
#29. 12 Angry Men (1957)
A brilliant courtroom drama that has several layers of insight on leadership, conflict resolution, the psychology of group behavior, consensus building, persuasion methods, negotiation techniques, and conflicting value systems.
12 Angry Men is a must watch business movie that will leave you thinking about the way you make important decisions.
This is one of those ‘must see’ movies that will never feel like a chore to watch. Sometimes we feel like we have to see a movie just because it’s one of the greats but this one you’ll want to watch because it is great.
12 Angry Men keeps moving at a pace you wouldn’t expect for a movie about 12 people who pretty much just talk in a single room for the entire movie. Even those with a short attention span should be able to enjoy this one.
Some years ago, National Review named 12 Angry Men as the greatest liberal film of all time and they didn’t mean it as a backhanded compliment. Just recently in a mini-review in Entertainment Weekly, this landmark film was labeled as a liberal treatise.
12 Angry Men is a film that will never date because its perception of law and morality is a civics lesson that should never be forgotten.
#30. How to Get Ahead in Advertising
This movie will teach you a thing or two about creative problem solving and advertising.
How to Get Ahead in Advertising was a flop when first released, but redeemed itself many years later and is touted as a brilliantly entertaining satire of the advertising industry.
This movie will definitely make you think differently about business, marketing strategy, advertising know-how, market segmentation, and branding in the commercial world.
#31. Thank You for Smoking (2006)
Thank You for Smoking tells the story of tobacco industry lobbyist Nick Naylor who creatively spins arguments to defend the cigarette industry in the most challenging of situations.
Thank You for Smoking takes the anxiety out of its examination of American politics by making the subject laughable.
How does anyone, given that we all know someone or are someone who has been adversely affected by smoking, make tobacco lobbying funny?
From the comedic timing, to the casting, to the character development, this movie will keep a permanent smirk on your face as you recall the most ridiculous segments on Fox News and MSNBC from the past week.
When you’re perfectly capturing the essence of something, even the ridiculous nature that makes it a comedy also makes it endearing.
Thank You for Smoking is the perfect film for a marketing savvy entrepreneur or someone who wants to learn a few tricks on how to sell just about any product, crisis management, marketing, advertising campaigns, corporate communications, PR and effective negotiation tactics.
#32. The Merchant of Venice (2004)
This movie is based on Shakespeare’s play and is one of Al Pacino’s greatest films.
What’s better than Shakespeare and what’s better than Al Pacino playing Shakespeare. Amazing how Pacino reveals the complications in Shylock’s character. You sympathize with him and hate him all at the same time. Shakespeare himself would have been proud of this production although it is not exact to his script.
The Merchant of Venice is about Bassino, a young member of the aristocratic class, who turns to a Jewish moneylender Shylock (Al Pacino) for financial help.
This is a pleasurable period piece with lessons on business partnerships, contract negotiations, business law principles, risk assessment and mercantile law that still hold value today.
#33. Dr. Strangelove or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Love the Bomb (1964)
This is a brilliant Cold War satire, one of those movies that will keep you entertained from start to finish. Dr. Strangelove will get you thinking about leadership, international relations, geopolitics, influence and loyalty.
This movie is a classic.
Even if you’ve never seen this movie, you’ve probably seen scenes from it. Slim Pickens as Maj. King Kong riding the missile like a bucking bronc is used everywhere. Scenes with Dr. Strangelove (Peter Sellers) in a wheelchair are also commonplace. You might also recognize the closing scenes of bombs exploding to the song “We’ll Meet Again.”
You’re guaranteed to have a good laugh.
#34. The Rainmaker (1997)
This movie is the story of a broke law-school grad who takes on a corrupt insurance company in order to fight for the life of a boy with terminal leukemia.
The events in the Rainmaker movie are representative of the unethical practices of the insurance industry’s denying valid claims of policy holders, hoping that they will give up and go away. As represented in this film, insurance underwriters are instructed to deny rather than pay out. This will generate a bonus for the underwriting department employees and benefit the company financial structure. It is all about the Benjamin’s.
The Rainmaker is a fantastic portrayal of the underdog, exemplifying the power of determination, business ethics, business law and social responsibility.Watch the Rainmaker movie here.