Eva Longoria has signed on to direct . . . a Cheetos movie?
No, this isn’t a Chester the Cheetah adventure, or some sort of cheesy (sorry) Uncle Drew spin-off.
Flamin’ Hot, announced by Fox Searchlight and Franklin Entertainment in early 2018, is the story of Richard Montanez, who was a janitor at a Southern California Frito-Lay plant when he invented Flamin’ Hot Cheetos. As the story goes, one day the Cheetos production line had a problem, preventing the snacks from getting dusted with its traditional cheese coating. Montanez took a bunch of the plain munchies home and started experimenting with chili powder and other flavors.
He found a combination he loved—and a way to pitch company execs on the idea—and the spicy version of the top-selling snack was born.
It also spurred Montanez’s rise within the company. He eventually rose to become a PepsiCo exec, and he wrote a memoir, 2013’s A Boy, a Burrito, and a Cookie.
Montanez worked with screenwriter Lewis Colick (October Sky) on the script, but despite the Longoria announcement, no specifics have been revealed about a possible premiere date.
Business-related biopics are a rare breed. The most notable are of recent vintage: The Founder, Joy, Jobs, and The Social Network. Scarcer still are those that involve delicious snacks. If Burger King can make a Flamin’ Hot Mac n’ Cheetos, and Forever 21 can sell Flamin’ Hot fashion, a rags-to-riches origin story of the often meme-ified munchies could be a branded content hit.
This isn’t Longoria’s first time working with Frito-Lay snacks. She starred in Lay’s 2012 “Do Us A Flavor” campaign.
Frito-Lay CMO Jennifer Saenz tells Fast Company that while the company isn’t officially involved with the film, they did help the producers understand how Cheetos are made at its plants and piece together some of the historical information that exists on Flamin’ Hot Cheetos from company archives. Saenz is
“Eva Longoria is a talented actor, director, and storyteller,” says Saenz, a Fast Company Most Creative People in Business honoree in 2018. “I only learned of her involvement recently, but think she has an opportunity to tell a compelling story about a product that many people know and love.”
In terms of how the company could us the film in its marketing, Saenz is taking a wait-and-see approach. “It’s early days and, without seeing the script, it’s hard to tell, but we know our consumers love Cheetos and we so appreciate that,” she says. “For a lot of associates, there is a lot of pride associated with being the company that has created such an iconic brand. At Frito-Lay, and PepsiCo, a product or flavor extension is the work of a number of people across functions as diverse as R&D, sales and marketing, all of whom are proud of the products they help create.”