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Where do broken hearts go? To Sony Pictures.
After a protracted bidding war, Sony and its TriStar division have won rights to I Wanna Dance With Somebody, the musical biopic of singer Whitney Houston.
A theatrical commitment was part of the deal, and Sony is setting a Thanksgiving 2022 release.
Anthony McCarten, the writer behind Queen biopic Bohemian Rhapsody, will pen the screenplay, while Stella Meghie, who was behind the Issa Rae romance The Photograph, will direct.
The project has the backing of Houston’s estate as well as 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 is one of the best-known recording artists of all time, selling 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 also starred in and recorded original music for 1992 blockbuster hit The Bodyguard. She died in 2012 at 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 a point to underline that importance of keeping this movie project in theaters.
“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,” said Josh Greenstein, president of Sony Motion Picture Group.
While it’s unclear how deep the biopic will go into Houston’s many personal issues, Davis said 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.”
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