An unlikely prestige subgenre has emerged in recent years: the corporate biopic. Hollywood has found that biopics of titans of industry, as well as the origin stories of corporations, can be presented as successful cinema. The gold standard of the genre is probably The Social Network, David Fincher's 2010 look at the founding of Facebook; it was followed by last year’s Steve Jobs, about the late Apple founder. Even 2011’s Moneyball, while nominally a sports film, followed the template too, while adapting a book that’s hugely popular in the business world.
Now, the latest corporate biopic is The Founder, a film that tells the story of Ray Kroc: the man who acquired McDonalds in 1961 and turned it into America’s most popular fast food chain.
The Founder stars Michael Keaton as Kroc and was directed by John Lee Hancock (The Blind Side, Saving Mr. Banks). A trailer for the film has now been released online (as an exclusive on USA Today), and can be viewed below.
The more than two-minute trailer shows Keaton as Kroc, using “persistence”- along with a pioneering real estate strategy- to go from a struggling milkshake machine salesman to America’s most successful fast food entrepreneur. There’s also a Zuckerberg-vs.-the-Winklevosses-style origin feud between Kroc and the company’s actual founders: the McDonald brothers (John Carroll Lynch and Nick Offerman), from whom Kroc bought the company. We also see Kroc with his apparently disapproving then-wife Ethel (Laura Dern.)
Will this story work on screen? Probably. Keaton is on a career roll, having starred in the last two Best Picture Oscar winners (Birdman and Spotlight), and Kroc’s story is a fascinating and deeply American one that’s likely unknown to most movie fans or McDonalds customers. Perhaps the story will even delve into Kroc’s highly colorful time owning the San Diego Padres in the 1970s.
Any concerns? Well, all of the aforementioned corporate biopics have something in common: screenwriter Aaron Sorkin, in addition to being based on events from the last 20 or so years. Sorkin did not write The Founder - Robert D. Siegel (The Wrestler) is the credited screenwriter - and it’s a period piece. Also, the crushing box office failure of last year’s Jobs biopic shows the appeal of such films may have a limit. On the other hand, The Founder may yet manage to carve out a decent-sized slice of the box office pie for itself when it serves as counter-programming to DC Comics adaptation Suicide Squad during its opening weekend this summer.
The Founder will open in U.S. theaters on August 5th, 2016.
Source: USA Today