The fast-food franchise is arguing that the likeness of King's horror character resembling the McDonald's mascot serves as free advertising.
In Russia, Stephen King's infamous clown is really terrifying McDonald's competition. Burger King's Russian division has demanded the horror movie remake It—which has grossed $14 million in Russia since it opened—be banned. The request came in a complaint filed with Russia's Federal Antimonopoly Service (FAS).
The complaint, which The Hollywood Reporter confirmed with a FAS spokeswoman, argues that Pennywise looks far too much like McDonald's less-deadly clown mascot Ronald McDonald. Because of the similarities between them, the film acts as an unintentional advertisement for Burger King's fast food rival.
Clarifying what the FAS review would cover, the spokeswoman told The Hollywood Reporter, "We can't be concerned with the content of the film because the writer and director have their own creative understanding of any character," before adding that the FAS would instead evaluate whether the movie contains advertising or product placement issues.
While the complaint may seem like it floated up out of nowhere (like a red balloon, perhaps), people have actually already drawn a direct connection between the two totally unrelated characters. In a video released on YouTube back in April, RackaRacka—an amateur filmmaking duo with over four million subscribers—posted a parody video that features Ronald in both funny and horrifying situations similar to that of King's Pennywise.
This isn't Burger King's first run-in with regulators. While recently expanding its operations in the country, the company had to explain why it had issued its own digital currency known WhopperCoin. There is currently no legal infrastructure to allow for the trading of cryptocurrency in the country.
Burger King's complaint against It and McDonald's is currently being evaluated, but because there is no timeframe for addressing issues such as this, it's unclear when it could be reviewed. It's possible that it may not happen before the film leaves Russian theaters. It officially opened in Russia on September 7 and according to THR is still screening in more than 100 theaters around the country. And despite what Burger King Russia is claiming, we're not sure seeing the clown in It devouring children will entice anyone to go out and grab a Big Mac.