A Legend Reborn

The Ask


Quick—list three standout names in pop culture. Chances are, “Stephen Hawking” didn’t make your list. So when Fandango challenged us to engage and activate millennials with “The Theory of Everything”, a 2015 romantic drama about Stephen Hawking, we knew we had to find a way to make the genius physicist relevant today.

Magnification of Minds

Strategic Approach


In-depth research proved that Stephen Hawking is a legend even in today’s media—from Star Trek to The Simpsons, Legally Blonde to Pink Floyd. As the reams of research grew, so did our excitement to visualize Stephen Hawking’s lesser-known influence on pop culture. Combining the minds behind UX, Creative, and Development, we devised a grand taxonomy chart that would engage users to discover unique, personal connections to Mr. Hawking.

If I had to choose a superhero to be, I would pick Superman. He's everything that I'm not.

Stephen Hawking

One Degree of Stephen Hawking

Design and Development


By categorizing our research, applying logic to form connections, and supplanting D3.js technology with data, users could click nodes to find Stephen Hawking in modern technology, science, and pop culture. Users could then share custom images showing their connection to Stephen Hawking generated with modifiable templates and sourced imagery to capture this path and point people back to the experience.

Following cues from the film we maintained a retro color palette, setting the chart in space and animating elements such as light speed streaks made with raw javascript and canvas. Along with Javascript, HTML, CSS, and web browser, D3 emulated a physics simulation upon interaction with the visual—perfect for the subject at hand.

Finally, we implemented a personalization engine which allowed users to browse freely or answer questions to be ushered to a relevant topic.

The Hawking Effect

The Results


In the end, we created a data visualization chart that was larger and more interconnected than first imagined. Through amplification around the movie trailer we achieved an 88% view rate and 4.4% CTR, resulting in tens of thousands of visitors to the movie’s website. “The Theory of Everything” amassed more than 2x its production budget at the box office and five Oscar nominations.

Let's Do Something Great

Smart thinking, compelling design, and a process that flourishes with your contributions.

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