McDonald's is the company which represents what people love or hate the most about America. This biopic, based on the book of the same name covers the main moments in the company's history. It begins in 1954 when Ray Kroc (the Founder of the title) meets the McDonald brothers in their fast-food restaurant in San Bernardino, California and discovers that he could make a lot of money with…!
The film is about the origins of the McDonald's global empire and covers the main moments in the company's mid-century history.
It is 1954. Marilyn Monroe has just married Joe DiMaggio, Elvis Presley is recording “That All Right " and Walt Disney is putting the final touches in his theme park in California.
Ray Kroc, played, by Michael Keaton is a 52-year-old salesman and doesn’t have much luck. He tries to earn a living by selling multimixers used for milkshakes sold in drive-in restaurants.
When Ray discovers that a drive-in restaurant in California wants to buy six of his milkshake machines, he decides to drive to San Bernardino to see why.
He is first surprised by how cheap it is to buy lunch ($0.55 for a hamburger, fries, and soda). He’s also surprised at how he gets his order within a minute of placing it. He’s been seeing such weak service from all the other burger joints he’s been to.
The restaurant is being run by brothers Dick and Mac McDonald.
They have produced a limited menu, concentrating on just a few items – burgers, fries and beverages – which allows them to focus on quality and quick service.
Adopting the process that revolutionized the auto industry, the brothers are using an assembly line to prepare their food and improve the efficiency of the restaurant. They call it the Speedee System.
The brothers are looking for a new agent and Kroc sees an opportunity. He quickly convinces them they need to expand. They’ve tried to before without any luck.
As they asked how they could do so, he offers his services and becomes McDonald's national agent - beginning a new age in franchising. That is how the little restaurants with the bright yellow arches began.
Kroc did not create the concept of the chain restaurant, he saw a niche and developed the plan to transform burgers, fries and shakes into a huge empire.
In 1955, he founded McDonald’s System, Inc., a predecessor of the McDonald’s Corporation, and the first shop opened in Des Plaines, Illinois.
By 1958, McDonald’s had sold its 100 millionth hamburger!
But the film shows also how Kroc found the way to make more money with this franchise system.
He had the idea of buying the land where the future McDonald restaurants would be built before renting them to the franchisees. He became very rich and powerful in the company.
In 1961 Kroc bought the exclusive rights to the McDonald’s name from Mac and Dick McDonald.
The film also stars Laura Dern as Ray Kroc’s first wife Ethel; John Carroll Lynch as Mac McDonald and Nick Offerman as Dick McDonald.
On general release 28 December
All photos: © Courtesy of The Weinstein Company