One of this summer's most intriguing blockbusters involves neither superheroes nor dinosaurs — but there will be burgers and fries. The Founder tells the story of how McDonald's sprouted from a fledgling drive-in restaurant to become a global fast-food superpower capable of raking in $700 million a year; starring Michael Keaton as the titular character along with Nick Offerman, Laura Dern, B.J. Novak, and Linda Cardellini, the much-anticipated film hits theaters August 4.
The New York Times spoke to people involved with the movie, including director John Lee Hancock, and gleaned some fascinating facts about the upcoming depiction of America's most iconic restaurant brand. Here, five tidbits to know before seeing The Founder this summer:
— The film is unauthorized by McDonald's. The chain has also declined to comment on the film. However — much like Facebook with The Social Network — the company hasn't tried to stop it from being made, probably to avoid giving it lots of free publicity.
— The movie is more about the history of McDonald's and the beginnings of the fast-food industry than it is a biography of founder Kroc. Director Hancock compares it to how "Citizen Kane described the rise of modern newspapers, and The Big Short tackled Wall Street’s role in the housing crisis."
— The film uses plenty of trademarked McDonald's imagery, including the signature Golden Arches, thanks to fair-use standards and the good ol' American right to free speech. (Hooray for the First Amendment.)
— The film features replicas of early McDonald's restaurants complete with working kitchens. The production team also replicated the McDonalds brothers original burger assembly line, "a precise system, devised in their original San Bernardino restaurant, that has been likened in its effect on the industry to the automotive work of Henry Ford."
— It took an insane amount of research (and hunting down old photos and blueprints) to properly replicate the look of early McDonald's stores. Producers had help from an unofficial McDonald's museum that now stands on the site of the original California store.