Keaton stars as Ray Kroc in bio of McDonald’s founder

Ray Kroc is portrayed by Michael Keaton

“The Founder,” a biopic of Ray Kroc, the Oak Park native who turned hamburger restaurant in Southern California into the world’s largest restaurant franchise, is now in preproduction and set for an Aug. 5 release.

“The Founder,” starring Michael Keaton, tells the story of how Kroc, a milkshake machine salesman in his fifties at the time, positions himself to pull the business from the McDonald brothers, Mac and Dick, and create a billion-dollar empire. 

The script, which maintains Kroc cheated the McDonald brothers out of $200 million, has been described in tone similar to “The Social Network” and “There Will be Blood.” When Kroc died in 1984, the chain had 7,000 locations, was worth $8 billion and Kroc’s personal fortune was estimated at $500 million, according to The Hollywood Reporter.

Written by Robert Siegel (“Wrestler,” “The Big Fan”), it was directed by  John Lee Hancock (“The Blind Side”) and filmed last summer in various Georgia and New Mexico locations.

It also stars Nick Offerman as Dick McDonald and John Carroll Lynch as Mac McDonald; Linda Cardellini, Laura Dern and B. J. Novak.

Sidebar: Michael Keaton worked in Chicago as star and director of “The Merry Gentlemen,” a 100% all-Chicago production written by Ron Lazzeretti, who had planned to direct but was sidelined by illness.

The dark drama was about Kate (Kelly McDonald) on the run from an abusive husband, who forms a tentative friendship with Frank (Keaton), a quiet man tormented by a dark secret.

Despite a cluster of star ratings, the movie failed at the box office. The producers sued Keaton charging the actor/director’s alleged contract breaches caused financial damages.  The charges were dismissed.