The Secret (2006 film)

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The Secret
DVD cover
Directed byDrew Heriot
Written byRhonda Byrne
Produced byPaul Harrington
Rhonda Byrne
CinematographyJohn Hall
Noel Jones
Matt Koopmans
Edited byDamian Corboy
Daniel Kerr
Distributed byPrime Time Productions
Release date
  • March 23, 2006 (2006-03-23)
Running time
91 minutes
United States
Budget$3.5 million[1]
Box office$65.6 million[2]

The Secret is a 2006 Australian-American spirituality documentary consisting of a series of interviews designed to demonstrate the New Thought "law of attraction", the belief that everything one wants or needs can be satisfied by believing in an outcome, repeatedly thinking about it, and maintaining positive emotional states to "attract" the desired outcome.

The film and the subsequent publication of the book of the same name attracted interest from media figures such as Oprah Winfrey, Ellen DeGeneres and Larry King.


The Secret, described as a self-help film,[3][4] uses a documentary format to present a concept titled "law of attraction". As described in the film, the "Law of Attraction" hypothesis[5] posits that feelings and thoughts can attract events, feelings, and experiences, from the workings of the cosmos to interactions among individuals in their physical, emotional, and professional affairs. The film also suggests that there has been a strong tendency by those in positions of power to keep this central principle hidden from the public.

Foundations in New Thought ideas[edit]

The authors of The Secret cite the New Thought movement which began in the late 18th century as the historical basis for their ideas.[6]

The New Thought book The Science of Getting Rich by Wallace Wattles, the source Rhonda Byrne cites as inspiration for the film, was preceded by numerous other New Thought books, including the 1906 book Thought Vibration or the law of attraction in the Thought World by William Walker Atkinson,[7] editor of New Thought magazine. Other New Thought books Byrne is purported to have read include self-help authors like Prentice Mulford's 19th-century Thoughts Are Things; and Robert Collier's Secret of the Ages from 1926.[8]

Carolyn Sackariason of the Aspen Times, when commenting about Byrne's intention to share The Secret with the world, identifies the Rosicrucians as keepers of The Secret.[9]


The Secret was created by Prime Time Productions of Melbourne, Australia with executive producer Rhonda Byrne, producer Paul Harrington, and director Drew Heriot. Gozer Media of Collingwood, a suburb of Melbourne, is the design house responsible for the visual style and feel of the film and its companion book.[10][11][12] Byrne's company TS Production LLC, a Hungarian company, is responsible for marketing and distribution of the film and book.[13] Byrne commented about the research she did prior to making the film:

So I sat down and did a huge list of everything I had read ... and when I finished the list I handed it to them [the film production team]. They said that's impossible, you couldn't read that many books in a year, two years, and I had read all of those books in two and a half weeks – and well, that's The Secret.[14]

Byrne's inspiration for creating The Secret came from reading the 1910 book The Science of Getting Rich by Wallace D. Wattles.[4] The film was done as a project for Australia's 9Network. Nine put up less than 25% of the $3 million project[15] with additional funding from mortgaging Byrne's home and from an investment by Bob Rainone, "a former Internet executive in Chicago".[8] Rainone became the CEO of one of Byrne's companies, The Secret LLC, and is described by Byrne as "delivered to us from heaven".[16]

The interviews were conducted and filmed throughout July and August 2005, with editing "effectively completed by Christmas time".[17] About 55 teachers and authors were interviewed[15] at locations including Chicago, Aspen, Alaska,[17] and a Mexican Riviera cruise (interviewing Esther Hicks).[18] The film uses 24 of these teachers in the extended version. The first edition featured a 25th teacher, Hicks, known "as the most prominent interpreter of the Law of Attraction". Since the first DVD release, Hicks declined to continue with the project. Her 10% share of sales netted the Hickses $500,000. As a result of this, Hicks' scenes are instead narrated by Lisa Nichols and Marci Shimoff.[8] No other "secret teachers" received compensation for their appearance in the film — revealed by Bob Proctor in an interview[19] on Nightline.[20]

What the Bleep Do We Know!? producer, director and screenwriter Betsy Chasse interviewed Secret co-producer Paul Harrington, who gave this description of Byrne's production methods: "We used the law of attraction during the making of the program. We went very unconventional, in terms of scheduling and budgeting. We allowed things to come to us... We just had faith that things would come to us."[17]

9Network, after viewing the completed film, declined to broadcast. A new contract was negotiated with all DVD sales going to Byrne's companies (Prime Time and The Secret LLC). In hindsight, Len Downs of Channel Nine commented, "we looked at it and we didn't deem it as having broad, mass appeal". It eventually broadcast on 3 February 2007 at 10:30 pm.[15] Downs reported that "it didn't do all that well".[4] The film was sold on DVD and also online through streaming media.



The film has been described as a "slick repackaging" of the Law of Attraction,[21] a concept originating in the New Thought ideas of the late 19th century.[citation needed] In producing the film, the law was intentionally "packaged" with a focus on "wealth enhancement" — differing from the more spiritual orientation of the New Thought Movement.[22] One of the film's backers stated, "we desired to hit the masses, and money is the number one thing on the masses' minds".[23] A review in described the packaging of the products related to the film as having "a look... that conjures a 'Da Vinci Code' aesthetic, full of pretty faux parchment, quill-and-ink fonts and wax seals.[24]

Choosing to package the film's theme as a "secret" has been called an important component of the film's popularity. Donavin Bennes, a buyer who specializes in metaphysics for Borders Books, stated "We all want to be in on a secret. But to present it as the secret, that was brilliant." [4]

Marketing campaign[edit]

The movie was advertised on the Internet using "tease" advertising and viral marketing; techniques in which the specific details of The Secret were not revealed. Additionally, Prime Time Productions granted written permission to individuals or companies, via application at the official site, to provide free screenings of the film to public audiences. Optionally, the DVD could be sold at these screenings.

The book[edit]

A companion book by Rhonda Byrne was published called The Secret (Simon & Schuster, 2006). The Secret was featured on two episodes of Oprah[25][26] — and as the film reached number one on the Amazon DVD chart in March 2007, the book version of The Secret reached number one on The New York Times bestseller list.[23] For much of February through April 2007, both the book and the DVD versions were #1 or #2 at Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and Borders. Simon & Schuster released a second printing of 2 million copies of The Secret — "the biggest order for a second printing in its history,"[27] while Time reported brisk sales of the DVD through New Age bookstores, and New Thought churches, such as Unity and Agape International Spiritual Center.[23] Like the movie, the book has also experienced a great deal of controversy and criticism for its claims, and has been parodied on several TV shows.[28]



The estimated domestic DVD sales in the US in 2007 exceed $56 million, and eventually topped $65 million.[29]

Critical response[edit]

The Secret has been described as a "self-help phenomenon",[30] a "publishing phenomenon",[22] and a "cultural phenomenon".[3][31]

Several critics wrote about the Secret in relation to self-help in general. Julie Mason, of the Ottawa Citizen, wrote that word of mouth about the film spread through Pilates classes, "get-rich-quick websites" and personal-motivation blogs.[32] Jane Lampman, of the Christian Science Monitor, described The Secret as a brand promoting Secret-related teachers, seminars and retreats.[22] According to Jill Culora, of the New York Post, fans of The Secret have posted on a wide range of blogs and Web forums accounts of how shifting from negative to positive thoughts made big improvements in their lives.[27]

Jerry Adler of Newsweek called it "breathless pizzazz" for a tired self-help genre;[4] "emphatically cinematic" and "driven by images and emotions rather than logic";[33] a blend of Tony Robbins and The Da Vinci Code;[3] and "the Unsolved Mysteries of infomercials".[33]

In 2007, The Secret was reportedly being discussed in "e-mails, in chat rooms, around office cubicles, [and] on blind dates".[27] It is recognized as having a broad and varied impact on culture.[27]

American TV host Oprah Winfrey is a proponent of the film and later the book. On The Larry King Show she said that the message of The Secret is the message she's been trying to share with the world on her show for the past 21 years.[34] Author Rhonda Byrne was later invited to her show along people who vow by The Secret.[35]

Some critics were bothered by the film's focus on questionable wealth enhancement, including promises that the universe will give you material goods "like having the universe as your catalog."[36]

According to a March 2007 issue of Skeptical Inquirer, the central idea of the film "has [no] basis in scientific reality", despite invoking scientific concepts.[37]

Within businesses using the DVD for employee-training and morale-building, author Barbara Ehrenreich called it "a gimmick" and "disturbing", like "being indoctrinated into a cult".[38]

UFC former champion Conor McGregor claims The Secret played a role in his rise to fame. McGregor has said his first reaction on watching the DVD version was: “This is bullshit — but then something clicked for me.” He and girlfriend Dee Devlin, who manages his finances, started focusing on small things they wanted, such as a parking space closest to the doors of a local shopping centre. He said: “We would be driving to the shop and visualising the exact car park space. And then we’d be able to get it every time.” They then began visualizing wealth, fame and championships.[39]


The concept was parodied on Parks and Recreation, The Chaser's War on Everything, It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, The Simpsons, Boston Legal and Saturday Night Live.[40][41][42]

Legal controversies[edit]

A Current Affair, an Australian newsmagazine airing on The Secret's co-funder 9Network, carried a 14 May 2007 segment titled "The Secret Stoush". Australian author Vanessa J. Bonnette is interviewed, and Bonnette—when referring to the book version of The Secret—asserts, "that is my work and Rhonda Byrne has stolen it".[43] Bonnette and a reporter compare her book to Byrne's on the use of the "TV transmission" analogy. Bonnette's book, Empowered for the New Era was released in 2007 as a second edition. Bonnette, at her website, claims 100 instances of plagiarism.[44] Byrne's marketing company, TS Production LLC, has responded with a lawsuit to restrain Bonnette.[13] From the statement of claim:

Analogy between frequency transmissions, including a television station transmission via a frequency, and humans and human thought is used by many persons in the field of self-help and motivation.[13]

David Schirmer, the "investment guru"—and only Australian—in the film, has his business activities under investigation by the Australian Securities Investment Commission (ASIC). This was reported on 1 June 2007 by A Current Affair in a segment titled "The Secret Con"[45] with those words and The Secret logo appearing in the background behind the newscaster. The show initially confronted Schirmer in a segment titled "The Secret Exposed", aired on 28 May 2007, with complaints from people who say Schirmer owed them money.[46]

On 12 February 2008, Bob Proctor's company, LifeSuccess Productions, L.L.C. successfully sued Schirmer, his wife Lorna, and their several companies (including LifeSuccess Pacific Rim PTY LTD, Schirmer Financial Management PTY LTD, LifeSuccess Productions PTY LTD, Excellence in Marketing PTY LTD, and Wealth By Choice PTY LTC) for "misleading or deceptive conduct".[47]

In August 2008, The Australian reported that director Heriot and Internet consultant Dan Hollings were in a legal dispute with Byrne over pay from the project.[48]

Footage featuring Esther Hicks was removed from the "Extended Edition" of The Secret after Byrne rescinded the original contract covering Hicks' participation.[49]


Paul Harrington, the producer for the film, reported that broadcast TV—instead of the Internet—was initially planned as the medium for the first release:

...we had as our vision to go out to the whole world in 24 hours on television. It was a grand vision, which we weren't able to pull off for various reasons. We were trying to force, to control the "how" of the universe, when what we were supposed to do was just focus on the vision...[17]

Release dates[edit]

The Secret premiere was broadcast through the Internet on 23 March 2006 using Vividas technology. It is still available either on a pay-per-view basis via streaming media (or on DVD at the official site for the film). A new extended edition of The Secret was released to the public on 1 October 2006. The Australian television premiere was on Nine Network on Saturday, 3 February 2007.[15]

Future releases and spin-offs[edit]

Plans were announced in 2007 to produce a sequel to The Secret and a spin-off TV series.[23][50] The drama film The Secret: Dare to Dream, starring Katie Holmes and Josh Lucas, was released on July 31, 2020.[51]

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "budget". The numbers. Retrieved 29 July 2013.
  2. ^ "Gross". The numbers. Retrieved 29 July 2013.
  3. ^ a b c Klein, Karin (13 February 2007). "Self-help gone nutty". Los Angeles Times. Archived from the original on 21 February 2007. Retrieved 13 January 2007.
  4. ^ a b c d e Adler, Jerry (5 March 2007). "Decoding The Secret". Newsweek. Retrieved 8 May 2008.
  5. ^ American Heritage Dictionary
  6. ^ della Cava, Marco R. (29 March 2006). "Secret history of 'The Secret' ". USA Today. Retrieved 4 May 2007.
  7. ^ Atkinson, William Walker (1906). Thought Vibration or the Law of Attraction in the Thought World. Cornerstone. ISBN 978-1564596604. (Out of copyright, published on the Internet Archived 5 June 2007 at the Wayback Machine)
  8. ^ a b c Salkin, Allen (25 February 2007). "Shaking Riches Out of the Cosmos". The New York Times. Retrieved 12 May 2007.
  9. ^ Sackariason, Carolyn (6 February 2007). "The big 'Secret' is finally out". Retrieved 4 June 2007.
  10. ^ "The Secret Press Release" (PDF). TS Production LLC. 2006. Archived from the original (PDF) on 21 April 2007. Retrieved 21 May 2007.
  11. ^ "Gozer Media visual effects & graphic design". Retrieved 5 May 2007. Gozer worked closely with the producers ... to develop the visual style of the show. We supplied all visual effects and other graphical components for the show and its subsidiaries. — navigate web: motion > The Secret
  12. ^ Byrne, Rhonda (2006) [2006]. "Acknowledgments". The Secret. Hillsboro, OR: Beyond Words. p. xiv. ISBN 978-1582701707. Goze Media, for the creation of the superb graphics and for impregnating them with the feeling of The Secret.
  13. ^ a b c Robinson, Russell (31 May 2007). "Self-help gurus take plagiarism battle to court". Herald Sun. Archived from the original on 30 March 2009. Retrieved 15 June 2007.
  14. ^ Two part interview of Rhonda Byrne made before the release of the film: Storr, Julie Ann (2005). "The Secret will be revealed in 2006 – part 1 interview". Nibbana. Archived from the original on 26 June 2007. Retrieved 22 May 2007. and Storr, Julie Ann (2005). "The Secret has been Revealed – part 2 interview". Nibbana. Archived from the original on 26 June 2007. Retrieved 22 May 2007.
  15. ^ a b c d Le Plastrier Aboukhater, Jacinta (1 February 2007). "Not a secret for long". The Age. Retrieved 12 May 2007.
  16. ^ Byrne, Rhonda (2006). "Acknowledgments". The Secret. Hillsboro, OR: Beyond Words. p. xiv. ISBN 978-1582701707.
  17. ^ a b c d Chasse, Betsy (1 July 2006). "A Conversation with The Secret co-producer Paul Harrington". The Bleeping Herald. Archived from the original on 29 April 2007. Retrieved 21 May 2007. — this is an interview by one of the producers for the film, What the Beep Do We Know!?
  18. ^ Hicks, Esther. "Jerry & Esther's Statement on 'The Secret'". Retrieved 22 February 2007.
  19. ^ McFadden, Cynthia (23 March 2007). "Transcript With 'Secret' Contributor Bob Proctor" (PDF). ABC's Nightline. Retrieved 21 May 2007.
  20. ^ McFadden, Cynthia; Sherwood, Roxanna; Weinberg, Karin (23 March 2007). "Science behind 'The Secret'?". ABC's Nightline. Retrieved 19 April 2007.
  21. ^ Flaim, Denise (12 March 2007). "It's mind over what matters". Retrieved 1 May 2007.
  22. ^ a b c Lampman, Jane (28 March 2007). " 'The Secret,' a phenomenon, is no mystery to many ". Christian Science Monitor. Retrieved 10 May 2007.
  23. ^ a b c d Ressner, Jeffrey (28 December 2006). "The Secret of Success". Time. Archived from the original on 8 January 2007. Retrieved 18 January 2007.
  24. ^ Birkenhead, Peter (5 March 2007). "Oprah's ugly secret". Retrieved 1 May 2007.
  25. ^ Oprah. 8 February 2007. Discovering The Secret. – text summary
  26. ^ Oprah. 16 February 2007. One Week Later: The Huge Reaction to The Secret. – text summary
  27. ^ a b c d Culora, Jill (4 March 2007). "A 'secret' Oprah Craze Hits New Yorkers". New York Post. Archived from the original on 29 September 2007. Retrieved 10 May 2007.
  28. ^ Christopher F. Chabris and Daniel J. Simons, Fight ‘The Power’, The New York Times 24 September 2010.
  29. ^ "The Secret (2006) – Financial Information". The Numbers. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  30. ^ Dundzila, Reverend Vilius (10 April 2007). "Not sold on The Secret". The Advocate. Archived from the original on 27 September 2007. Retrieved 10 May 2007.
  31. ^ Dawes, David F. (3 May 2007). "Pop culture's best-kept Secret". Christian Info Society. Archived from the original on 12 May 2007. Retrieved 10 May 2007.
  32. ^ Mason, Julie (4 February 2007). "The secrets of the secret". Ottawa Citizen. Archived from the original on 11 October 2007. Retrieved 10 May 2007.
  33. ^ a b Beato, Greg (1 April 2007). "The Secret of The Secret". Reason Magazine. Retrieved 1 May 2007.
  34. ^ "YouTube". Archived from the original on 13 August 2013. Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  35. ^ "Discovering The Secret". Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  36. ^ Jeffrey Ressner (28 December 2006). "The Secret of Success". TIME. Retrieved 16 October 2015.
  37. ^ "Secrets and Lies". 29 March 2007. Retrieved 16 February 2015.
  38. ^ Ehrenreich, Barbara (27 February 2007). "The Secret of Mass Delusion". The Huffington Post. Retrieved 29 October 2009.
  39. ^ Harvey, Oliver; Sun, The (26 July 2017). "Conor McGregor: 'The Secret' changed my life". Retrieved 18 February 2019.
  40. ^ "Nut Job of the Week". The Chaser's War on Everything. Sydney, Australia. 16 May 2007. Australian Broadcasting Corporation.Official site
  41. ^ "The Secret Connections". Imdb.
  42. ^ Beverley, James A. (2009). Nelson's Illustrated Guide to Religions. ISBN 978-1418577469.
  43. ^ Ben Fordham (News Caster), Vanessa J. Bonnette (interviewee) (14 May 2007). The Secret Stoush (Television production). Sydney, Australia: A Current Affair. Retrieved 12 June 2007.[permanent dead link] — requires Windows platform.
  44. ^ Vanessa J., Bonnette. "Secret Scandal". Archived from the original on 19 June 2007. Retrieved 11 June 2007. I have reason to believe that Byrne has infringed copyright of my work to the order of 100 (plus) citations that constitute as plagiarism according to Australian Copyright Council...
  45. ^ Ben Fordham (News Caster), David Schirmer (subject) (1 June 2007). The Secret Con (Posted video). Sydney, Australia: A Current Affair. Retrieved 6 June 2007.
  46. ^ Ben Fordham (Newscaster), David Schirmer (subject) (28 May 2007). The Secret Exposed (Television production). Sydney, Australia: A Current Affair. Retrieved 6 June 2007.[permanent dead link] — requires Windows platform.
  47. ^ "LifeSuccess Productions, L.L.C. v Excellence in Marketing Pty Ltd ACN 087 507 695 & Ors" (PDF). Retrieved 2 March 2021.
  48. ^ "The secret of Rhonda's success". The Australian. 28 September 2012. Retrieved 11 December 2012.
  49. ^ Guilliatt, Richard (23 August 2008). "The secret of Rhonda's success". The Australian. Archived from the original on 21 February 2009. Retrieved 5 April 2009.
  50. ^ Pursell, Chris (26 March 2007). "Telepictures Shoots Secret Pilot". TV Week. Archived from the original on 16 July 2007. Retrieved 13 July 2007.
  51. ^ Hipes, Patrick (14 February 2020). "'The Secret: Dare To Dream' Trailer: Katie Holmes & Josh Lucas Brave The Storm". Deadline. Retrieved 17 February 2020.

Further reading[edit]

External links[edit]