Fox Searchlight and producer DeVon Franklin now have the rights to Flamin’ Hot, a biopic about the creator of Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. Flamin’ Hot will follow the incredible rise of current Frito-Lays executive, Richard Montanez. Born in Mexico and the son of an immigrant, Montanez began life in America picking grapes with his family in the rural areas near Ontario, CA. Due to difficulties with learning English, Richard dropped out of high school and went to work as a janitor for Frito-Lay’s Rancho Cucamonga plant.
Following a motivational speech by the Frito-Lay president, Montanez took the initiative of developing an idea for what would become the Flamin’ Hot Cheeto following a mechanical error in the plant. Montanez fused the popular Cheeto snack with the spicy flavors found in corn dishes made by Mexican street vendors (called elote). The resulting pitch propelled Montanez to the position of EVP of multicultural sales and community activation for the North American division of PepsiCo. Montanez used his expertise to help create products and promotions for the likes of Taco Bell and KFC, which are both also under the PepsiCo umbrella. In addition to his corporate work, Montanez has been active in providing scholarships and living essentials to other young Latinos in an effort to help provide opportunity for them to succeed.
Variety reports that Fox Searchlight won the rights to Flamin' Hot and is now developing the project with producer DeVon Franklin. Multiple studios had been working to secure the rights, which will be produced via Franklin’s company, Franklin Entertainment.
A producer and executive with credits the likes of the remakes of Annie and The Karate Kid to his name, Franklin helped to develop the pitch alongside the slated screenwriter, Lewis Colick, as well as the subject of the film. Colick’s previous scripts include the Joe Johnston film October Sky and 1996’s Ghosts of Mississippi, which was directed by Rob Reiner. Samuel Rodriguez will be the executive producer.
In the current atmosphere, it has become important to create representation of minorities, both in fiction and in humanizing tales such as this upcoming biopic. That Richard Montanez was a Mexican immigrant who was unable to learn English, dropped out of high school, and became a janitor before realizing his potential touches on an additional undercurrent in the political climate that studios must have looked to in order to bolster press and ticket sales. A true representation of the American Dream of pulling oneself up by their bootstraps, the film is likely to serve as an inspiration and goal for many people, regardless of ethnicity.