McDonald’s may not be too pleased with John Lee Hancock’s movie, The Founder, which features Michael Keaton portraying the burger master’s founder, Ray Kroc, but if they are, you wouldn’t know it.
“To date, according to Mr. Hancock and others, McDonald’s has made no attempt to interfere with The Founder. To do so would risk inadvertently promoting the film. In a similar situation, Facebook chose not to fight an unflattering portrayal of its chief executive, Mark Zuckerberg, in the 2010 movie The Social Network,” says Michael Cieply, writer for the New York Times.
Having directed Saving Mr. Banks and The Blind Side, Hancock is not known for having a mean streak and claims that The Founder is basically a biopic of the McDonald’s brand and restaurants, however, don’t expect to see a rise in burger sales either. Keaton told Variety that he told Hancock that he wanted to portray Mr. Kroc the way Ray really was with no filter.
“I said to him, ‘You know, if we’re going to either wink or at the end of the movie go, he (wasn’t all that bad), I’m really not interested. Let’s tell the truth, let’s tell the story,’” he said. “I wasn’t interested in having it — I hate to use an overly-used word — but sugar-coated.”
Robert Siegel penned the script about how the former milkshake machine salesman was able to take away the small burger restaurant from brothers Mac and Dick McDonald in the 1950’s. The story goes that Kroc was struggling to sell the mixers when he received an order for six, five-spindle milkshake mixers from a small burger joint in San Bernardino, California. Kroc was able to see for himself how well the original McDonald’s stand worked and soon learned why they would need to be able to mix up to 30 milkshakes at one time.
Kroc was inspired by how the McDonald brothers were running their restaurant and were able to serve large crowds of customers in a short period with their speedy service. They called it the “Speedee System.” What made McDonald’s “system” so unique was that the drive-in restaurant only offered a few items (hamburgers, fries, and soft drinks) rather than the larger menu featured at their competitors. By offering the limited menu, they were able to serve up their food much quicker. Kroc was also able to see what the McDonald’s owners could not — the potential of franchising the burger stand into a burger empire.
Dick and Mac were also inspired by Kroc and hired him to be their franchising agent. Kroc quickly encouraged the pair to use their iconic “golden arches” featured prominently at their stand for every new drive-in that they created. In short order, Kroc opened 13 restaurants in Chicago and the Midwest. But soon, Kroc became frustrated by his small cut of the McDonald’s restaurant’s profits and began to see how he break away from the McDonald brothers and make a go of things on his own. Eventually, Kroc was able to buy out the brother’s stake in 1961, making him the company’s owner, president, and CEO. Today, McDonald’s has over 35,000 locations all over the world.
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In addition to Keaton, The Founder stars Nick Offerman and John Carroll and Dick and Mac and Laura Dern as Kroc’s first wife, Ethel. The film also stars Linda Cardellini, Patrick Wilson, John Carroll Lynch, and B.J. Novak.
[Featured Image by The Weinstein Company]