How-To Geek

The Secret Formula For Successful Movies

How do you create a successful movie? You start with a lonely orphan and build from there. Check out this entertaining graphic to see how to get from orphanhood to happily ever after.

Who knew there was such a similarity between The Lion King and Star Wars? Surely there has to be more movies/comics/etc. that fall into the plot outlined in the graphic above–if you can think of any share them in the comments.

Jason Fitzpatrick is a warranty-voiding DIYer who spends his days cracking opening cases and wrestling with code so you don't have to. If it can be modded, optimized, repurposed, or torn apart for fun he's interested (and probably already at the workbench taking it apart). You can follow him on if you'd like.

  • Published 12/28/11

Comments (11)

  1. Daniel

    Spiderman (the Movie) – Had Mary Jane Watson and Harry as his friends.

  2. Daniel

    I would also say the Wizard of Oz but she had 3 outcasts instead of 2

  3. James Ford

    As a writer, this is fairly common, kind of like “The Rules” to a horror movie that non-horror movie people discovered after “Scream.” They’re also missing there is generally something special about the character that makes them different that they are either unaware of or find a burden later to use it to their advantage. There is often a mentor character who must die in order for the orphan to step forward and fulfill their purpose and in the end they alone will face their adversary who is often tied to their origin.

    Most of these are present in some form in Tarzan, Superman, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, Avatar, Terminator, Spider-Man, The Matrix, etc.

    Joseph Conrad wrote extensively on this after researching mythologies from various cultures and pointing out their similarities.

  4. Anthony

    I could have sworn Simba’s mom was still alive during the events of The Lion King… so not an orphan? Still funny.

  5. dima

    Very true. It’s called a “hero myth” and is basically a formula for any successful book/movie.

  6. dima

    Also, there should be a part in there, about half way or close to the end when the hero hit “rock bottom”, everything seems to be lost and bad guy seems to have won. But then the hero gets back up by some miracle/help from friends/etc. This part is not very universal and pronounced though as there may be slight variations, some heroes may have multiple “rock bottoms”, etc.

  7. Steve-O-Rama

    As long as George Lucas stays the HELL away from it…. :)

  8. michel

    @James Ford: you mean Joseph Campbell, Hero with a Thousand Faces, not Joseph Conrad, Heart of Darkness.

  9. bobro

    can some one please explain to me how Brides maids made it so big? that film was crap, the ingrediants seemed to be moaning b*tch loses fickle b*tch to posh b*tch posh loses fickle, posh asks moaning for help finds fickle, fickle and moany are mates posh can tag along… oh and there was a sick and s*its scene in the middle of it…. seriously why was this hype and raved about… i love when cartoons take the mick about people finding these stupid simple minded toilet jokes funny… (though the parady is lost on some and they see it as a genuine joke!)

    (i know this is unrelated but god i hated this film so much!!)

  10. cocobiskits

    Great Expectations, Water Babies…..from an older generation!

  11. DEVNH


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