Based on a True Product: Tetris, BlackBerry, Flamin’ Hot Cheetos in the Spotlight at SXSW
You’ve heard of “ripped from the headlines.” What about “swiped from store shelves”? Ahead of the April 5 release of the Air Jordans movie, Air, this year’s SXSW film festival is filled with features similarly inspired by beloved brands and the people behind them, in which CEOs are supporting cast and intellectual property battles are edge-of-your seat stuff. From snacks to cellphones, here are the consumer products making their ways to the screen.
Based on Jacquie McNish and Sean Silcoff’s book Losing the Signal, BlackBerry stars Jay Baruchel and Glenn Howerton and traces the rise and steep decline of the now-bygone Canadian proto-smartphone, which flourished in the liminal space between flip phones and the iPhone.
Dungeons & Dragons: Honor Among Thieves
Created in 1974, the role-playing fantasy board game was long considered impossible to adapt, given its lack of a central storyline. Warner Bros. and Universal have both taken stabs. Now it’s Paramount’s turn, with a version set inside the world of the game, from writer-directors John Francis Daley and Jonathan Goldstein.
Eva Longoria’s directorial debut follows Richard Montañez, who claimed to have invented Flamin’ Hot Cheetos while a janitor at Frito-Lay. In 2021, as the film was heading into shooting, the Los Angeles Times called into question that compelling story, reporting that Montañez contributed to the snack’s development but was not its originator.
The Taron Egerton-starring Apple movie dramatizes the long and tortuous rights battle and back-channel diplomacy that brought the beloved Russian-made puzzle video game — invented by Soviet software engineer Alexey Pajitnov — to Nintendo in the 1980s, and how the Game Boy popularized it on a global scale.
A previous version of this story stated that Flamin Hot had wrapped filming when the L.A. Times story about the protagonist Richard Montañez was published. The movie had begun production at the time of publishing.
This story first appeared in the March 8 issue of The Hollywood Reporter magazine. Click here to subscribe.