Sony and its TriStar division have bought the upcoming Whitney Houston biopic, titled I Wanna Dance With Somebody. The studio plans to release the movie in theaters around Thanksgiving in 2022.
Anthony McCarten, the writer responsible for the Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, is responsible for the screenplay, while Stella Meghie, who was behind the Issa Rae romance The Photograph, will direct.
The motion picture has the support, and approval of Houston’s estate as well as (legendary) music producer Clive Davis. Pat Houston will produce the movie on behalf of the Houston Estate, along with Davis, Primary Wave Music’s Larry Mestel, Denis O’Sullivan and McCarten.
Houston, also known as Nippy, is one of the best known recording artists of all time, and one of the best vocalists within our musical history. Having sold more than 200 million records worldwide, with hit songs that include “Saving All My Love for You,” “How Will I Know” and “I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” she was one of the leading pop stars around the entire globe. Her career also spanned film; she starred in and recorded original music for the 1992 blockbuster hit The Bodyguard, The Preachers Wife (1996), and Sparkle (2020). She passed away in 2012 at the tender age of 48.
“Whitney just makes you want to get out of your seat and sing and dance!” said TriStar head Nicole Brown in Tueday’s announcement. “She is anthemic in every way. Anthony McCarten has bottled that up in his masterful screenplay bringing this beloved legend to life in a way we’ve never seen her – funny, exhilarating, aspirational, complex and incredibly human. Add to that Stella Meghie, a diehard fan, who is so gifted at telling beautiful, modern, feminine tales. With the guidance of Pat Houston, the legendary Clive Davis, Larry Mestel, Denis O’Sullivan, and Jeff Kalligheri, we have the absolute dream team to create the ultimate celebration of Whitney’s incredible life and musical achievements.”
Sony made it especially important to hi-light that they will be keeping this movie project in theaters, and that it will be a bare-all production.
“Musically-driven films have always held a special place in theaters and this remarkable story will help further our fierce commitment to the theatrical experience,” shared Josh Greenstein, president of Sony Motion Picture Group.
Though the film intends to remain true to the story of Whitney, it is not yet clear how deep the biopic will go into Houston’s personal issues. However, Davis states that the biopic will go far.
“From all my personal and professional experience with Whitney from her late teenage years to her tragic, premature death, I know the full Whitney Houston story has not yet been told,” said Davis. “I am so glad that Anthony McCarten has committed to a no holds barred, musically rich screenplay that finally reveals the whole Whitney whose vocal genius deeply affected the world while she bravely battled the demons that were to be her undoing.”
If you have been a Whitney fan, like myself, then you know this film has been long overdue. Whitney Houston was a force of nature, whom’s voice, charismatic energy, and loving aura can still transport you through the legendary music she left behind. However, you needn’t be a fan to appreciate the soaring finish of The Bodyguard‘s signature tune “I Will Always Love You,” or her Super Bowl rendition of “The Star Spangled Banner.” Whitney is unmatched, and as a Black woman from the impoverished city of Newark, NJ who reached the ultimate height of success, her legacy will live on forever.
The producers describe their vision of the film as a “joyous, emotional and heart-breaking celebration of the life and music of the greatest female R&B pop vocalist of all time, tracking her journey from obscurity to musical superstardom. While being very frank about the price that super-stardom exacted, it will be both the rich and complex saga of the search for the perfect marriage between song and singer and audience, and at the same time the moving tale of a simple Jersey girl trying to find her way back home.”