A new Disney Plus film that tells a rags-to-riches story of a Frito-Lay janitor and his genius invention is a "love letter to the power of faith," says producer DeVon Franklin.
The movie, Flamin' Hot, follows the real-life story of Richard Montañez, a Frito Lay janitor who says he came up with the idea for Flamin Hot Cheetos. Eva Longoria directed it. Franklin produced it.
"I wanted to make this movie because I was just amazed by the story," Franklin told Christian Headlines. "When Richard told me his story, I just said, 'Wait a minute, how do you go from being a janitor, to becoming a corporate executive?'"
Montañez became vice president of multicultural sales and community promotions at PepsiCo, which owns Frito Lay.
"That's just doesn't happen every day," Franklin said. "You don't hear stories like that every day. … I was just so moved by it, motivated by it, inspired by it. I really just had to do it."
Franklin previously produced Breakthrough, Miracles from Heaven and The Star, three faith-based movies. He also had acting roles in Woodlawn and Jesus Revolution. In the latter movie, he portrayed a Time Magazine reporter.
"For the faith audience, there is a strong through line of faith in (Flamin' Hot) in terms of Richard's journey to faith," Franklin told Christian Headlines. "And also, the whole movie really is an endeavor of faith because he has to believe that he can find work initially and then has to believe that there's more that he can do with his life.
"The movie is a love letter to the power of faith," Franklin added. "And it has a real impact on people. I mean, I've seen this movie play in front of audiences all around the country. And I would definitely say that those that have seen it, their faith has been improved. And I think that when people see this movie, especially in the faith community, I think they're gonna relate to Richard's story, and relate to his family and relate to his journey."
Flamin' Hot debuts on Disney Plus on June 9. It's rated PG-13 for some strong language and brief drug material.
Photo courtesy: ©Disney, used with permission.
Michael Foust has covered the intersection of faith and news for 20 years. His stories have appeared in Baptist Press, Christianity Today, The Christian Post, the Leaf-Chronicle, the Toronto Star and the Knoxville News-Sentinel.