Whitney Houston is headed back to the big screen in a feature film about the singer’s life, which took her to the heights of fame, but ended in drug addiction and tragedy.
Penned by the screenwriter of Bohemian Rhapsody, the biopic is being shepherded by the Whitney Houston Estate, music producer Clive Davis and Primary Wave Music, the partners said Wednesday.
I Wanna Dance with Somebody will follow Houston from obscurity to pop stardom and promises to be “frank about the price that super-stardom exacted,” according to the announcement.
“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,” Davis said in a statement.
He said Anthony McCarten’s script will reveal the “whole Whitney whose vocal genius deeply affected the world while she fiercely battled the demons that were to be her undoing.”
McCarten, who has received Oscar nominations for his scripts for The Theory of Everything, The Darkest Hour and The Two Popes, said in a statement that he’s grateful to be working closely with the people who knew Houston best.
Musical biopics have surged in popularity in the past two years, in part due the success of Bohemian Rhapsody — the story of Queen frontman Freddie Mercury, which won four Oscars in 2019 — and Rocketman, which explored Elton John’s rise to fame.
Wednesday’s announcement also revealed that Canadian filmmaker Stella Meghie is in “advanced talks” to direct. Meghie most recently directed The Photograph with Issa Rae and LaKeith Stanfield.
Houston sold over 200 million records worldwide during her 25-year career and won six Grammys, 16 Billboard Music Awards and two Emmys before her death in 2012. She co-starred in the 1992 romantic thriller The Bodyguard and made several other movies.
Since her death, the Grammy winner has been the subject of several documentaries, but this is the first feature film project approved by her estate.
The project does not have a studio or distribution yet. No casting information was announced.
Houston, 48, drowned in her bathtub at a Beverly Hills hotel in 2012 on the eve of the Grammy Awards. The coroner’s report showed the death to be accidental, with heart disease and cocaine use as contributing factors. The singer had a well-chronicled and years-long battle with drug addiction.