Founder, The: Hancock’s Tale of How McDonald Became Empire

Directed by John Lee Hancock (Saving Mr. Banks, The Blind Side), based on an original screenplay by Robert Siegel (The Wrestler), The Founder tells the story of how Ray Kroc (Michael Keaton), an Illinois salesman, met Mac and Dick McDonald, when they were running a burger operation in 1950s Southern California.

Impressed by the brothers’ speedy system of making the food at their San Bernardino hamburger stand and the crowds of patrons it attracted, Kroc immediately saw franchise potential and found an opportunity to pull the company from the brothers to create a billion-dollar empire.  And thus McDonald’s was born.

Michael Keaton stars as the maverick American entrepreneur Ray Kroc, who transformed McDonald’s from a San Bernardino hamburger stand into a global empire now with over 35,000 locations around the world.

Nick Offerman and John Carroll Lynch portray Dick and Mac McDonald, the innovative brothers whose assembly line system brought industrial efficiency to the preparation of their limited menu of burgers, fries, shakes and sodas during a dynamic period in post-war America when people were time-strapped and clamoring for speed.

Also starring are Laura Dern as Ray Kroc’s first wife, Ethel, and Linda Cardellini as Joan Smith, the wife of one of Ray’s early franchisees who would later marry the entrepreneur.

Joining them are Patrick Wilson as Minnesota restaurant owner and McDonald’s franchisee Rollie Smith, and B.J. Novak as Harry Sonneborn, the financial whiz whose franchising innovations led to Kroc being able to wrest control of McDonald’s from the founding brothers.

The film is produced by FilmNation’s Aaron Ryder and The Combine’s Don Handfield.