According to Deadline, Moonlight actor Ashton Sanders has officially been cast to star opposite Naomi Ackie in TriStar Pictures’ upcoming Whitney Houston biopic, I Wanna Dance With Somebody. Black Label Media has also signed on to serve as a co-financier with Compelling Pictures and Primary Wave Musical.
Sanders is set to portray the role of singer-rapper Bobby Brown, who had been previously married to Houston for 15 years. Following years of turmoil, Houston finally filed for divorce which was finalized in 2007. She was also granted full custody of their only child Bobbi Kristina, who unfortunately passed away in 2015 at the age of 22 due to lobar pneumonia, just only three years after her mother’s untimely death.
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I Wanna Dance With Somebody, a title derived from one of Houston’s iconic songs, will be directed by Kasi Lemmons (Harriet) from a screenplay written by Anthony McCarten, the scribe behind acclaimed biopics such as Darkest Hour, and Bohemian Rhapsody. Producers are McCarten, Grammy-winning producer Clive Davis, Pat Houston, and Primary Wave’s Larry Mester & Denis O’Sullivan, with Stella Meghie (The Photograph), who was previously attached to direct, still serving as an executive producer.
The film is a co-production by The Whitney Houston Estate and Primary Wave. Due to the blessing of Houston’s estate and Davis, the project has been authorized to use the late singer’s catalog and vocals. Nicole Brown, Shary Shirazi, and Brittany Morrissey are also set to oversee the project on behalf of TriStar Pictures.
The Naomi Ackie-led film is currently slated to arrive in theaters in Thanksgiving 2022.
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After 7 studio albums, 6 Grammy wins, 9 world tours, and countless memorable hit songs later, Whitney Houston is still regarded as one of the most iconic and influential artists of all time. Even after her untimely death eight years ago at the age of 48, her legacy continues to live on through all of the old and new singers she had inspired by her immense talent and music. She had also earned the title of most awarded female artist of all time by the Guinness World Records and is still one of the best-selling music artists of all time with 200 million records sold worldwide.
Houston is also best known for her acting debut film, The Bodyguard starring alongside Kevin Costner which had become the second highest-grossing film worldwide in 1992 and its soundtrack also became the best-selling soundtrack album of all time with the song “I Will Always Love You.” Her other notable film credits include Forest Whitaker’s 1995 romance film Waiting to Exhale; Penny Marshall’s The Preacher’s Wife opposite Denzel Washington; and the Disney musical TV film Rodgers & Hammerstein’s Cinderella which earned 7 Emmy nominations.