A movie filmed partially in Coweta County is set to be released in theaters Friday.
Scenes depicted in “The Founder,” a biographical drama about Ray Kroc and his role in creating the McDonald’s restaurant franchise, were filmed in downtown Newnan in June 2015. Shooting took place in the parking lot of the Coweta County Administration Building and included the temporary building of a 1950s-style McDonald’s restaurant. Famed actor Michael Keaton, the film’s star, was spotted locally during filming along with director John Lee Hancock, who had previously directed “The Blind Side.”
Familiar downtown buildings such as Thrifttown and Arnall Grocery can be seen in movie trailers promoting the picture, most of which can be viewed on the film’s official website at www.thefounderfilm.com.
Kroc was a salesman for milkshake machines who became interested in a small restaurant chain owned by the McDonald brothers, Richard and Maurice, whose rapid growth resulted in a large order for the machines. Kroc recognized the brothers’ concept of low prices and quick service was popular in the booming economy in the years following World War II, so he took a job with them marketing franchises across the country and eventually bought the chain, according to HistoryVSHollywood.com.
“In those days, nobody had eight Multimixers in one business," Kroc was quoted saying in a BBC documentary. “So, I went out there, and I was amazed. They were serving hamburgers for 15 cents, french fries for 10 cents and milkshakes for 20 cents, and basically that was the menu. And I said, 'That's for me.'”
The movie is based on Kroc’s autobiography, “Grinding It Out: The Making of McDonald’s.” The movie is generally faithful to the book, according to HistoryVSHollywood.com. However, one bone of contention is who actually deserves the title as the founder of the restaurant chain.
Richard McDonald told the Wall Street Journal in 1991, “Up until the time we sold, there was no mention of Kroc being the founder. If we had heard about it, he would be back selling milkshake machines.”
That was the year the McDonald’s Corporation began crediting both the brothers and Kroc for their own contributions.
So far, the movie has gotten decent reviews.
“The casting's excellent. Keaton's well-known, fast-talking charm is put to fresh and urgent use here as Kroc, a striver who has failed at many things in his life,” writes reviewer Michael Phillips in the Chicago Tribune. “He's just sympathetic enough in the actor's hands to prevent him from becoming a mere archetype of wolfish ambition.”
In USA Today, critic Brian Truitt gave it three out of four possible stars.
“‘The Founder’ is the rare biopic with a hero who's also its greatest villain,” he writes. “An intriguing take on the genre that veers wildly away from its initial feel-good nature, ‘The Founder’ has its flaws — though not as many as its main subject — yet is an insightful look at the history of an iconic institution that doubles as a cautionary tale.”
Adding to the excitement of the local release, the Newnan-Coweta Historical Society is currently hosting a small exhibit dedicated to the motion picture. The display includes costumes worn by two actors who portrayed cooks in scenes recorded locally. The exhibit can be found at the McRitchie-Hollis Museum, located at 74 Jackson St., and is available for viewing during the museum’s regular business hours, Tuesday through Saturday from 10 a.m. to 12 p.m. and 1-3 p.m.
Local theaters are expecting the film to begin showing Friday, but specific showtimes are not accessible at this time.
“The Founder” is one of a host of movies and television series filmed in the area, including “Mockingjay” in 2014, “The Odd Life of Timothy Green” in 2011, and several episodes of the popular AMC television series, “The Walking Dead.”