The True Story Corporate Thriller You Can Stream Without Netflix

By TeeJay Small | Published

These days, true-story corporate thrillers seem to be all the rage, with films about the rise and fall of products and corporations hitting the box office in droves. One 2016 film, The Founder, showcases the insidious rise of the global fast-food chain McDonald’s long before the brand became the shimmering beacon of urban recognition it is today. The film has a star-studded cast, a fast-paced plot, and a shocking true backstory that will make you equal parts hungry, inspired, and disgusted.

The Founder

michael keaton

The Founder was written by Pam & Tommy‘s Robert Siegel and directed by The Blind Side‘s John Lee Hancock, based on both the autobiography of former McDonald’s CEO Ray Kroc and an unauthorized biography of the American businessman. The screenplay for The Founder circulated throughout Hollywood for some time before eventually receiving a production order from The Weinstein Company. Before it was selected for production, Deadline Hollywood listed the screenplay among the best un-produced scripts of 2014.

Michael Keaton Gives It His All

michael keaton

The film stars Michael Keaton as Ray Kroc, who served as the real-life man behind the rapid expansion of the McDonald’s brand, alongside massive talents such as Nick Offerman, John Carroll Lynch, Linda Cardellini, Laura Dern, B.J. Novak, and Fargo’s Patrick Wilson. Despite the incredibly complex production, which included building period-accurate McDonald’s locations from scratch, John Lee Hancock is said to have been so well-prepared for the film that shooting schedules were much shorter than the average set. As a result, many of the actors who worked on The Founder have referred to the film as their favorite filmmaking experience.

From Milkshakes To Millions

The Founder centers on Ray Kroc, who began his corporate career selling milkshake mixers to local burger chains for the Prince Castle food services corporation. After struggling to find success in branching his business into new endeavors, Kroc discovers the very first McDonald’s location in San Bernardino during the Summer of 1954. Despite other burger restaurants struggling to maintain steady business, McDonald’s is incredibly popular, prompting the owners of the SoCal locale to order a ton of milkshake machines from Ray.

The Ruthless Origin Of McDonald’s

michael keaton

Ray quickly recognizes that the business’ low operational complexity and expeditious serve times make the restaurant a veritable goldmine and immediately pitches the founders, Dick and Mac McDonald, on the idea of expanding into a larger franchise. After a brief negotiation, the brothers eventually agreed to let Ray expand the business, launching the massive global chain that we know today. Along the way, Ray’s ruthless business practices cause the McDonald brothers and their family-oriented management style to fall by the wayside and eventually be cut out entirely, resulting in the modern fast food giant’s cold corporate culture.

Stream Without Netflix

The Founder wowed critics and audiences alike, resulting in an 81 percent certified fresh critic score on the review aggregate site Rotten Tomatoes. Though the film failed to make a massive cultural splash, it has become something of a modern cult classic, with short clips often popping up on social media apps such as TikTok. For those interested, The Founder is available to stream for free on both Tubi and Freevee.