Whitney Houston’s life is set to be the subject of a big-screen biopic from the Grammy-winning producer Clive Davis and the singer’s estate.
According to Deadline, the film, to be called I Wanna Dance with Somebody, will be scripted by Anthony McCarten, who will also act as producer. McCarten has received Oscar nominations for his screenplays for the fact-based dramas The Two Popes and The Theory of Everything. His writing credits also include Bohemian Rhapsody and Darkest Hour.
Davis, who discovered Houston in her teens and worked with her for many years, recently said he was “very disappointed” with two documentaries about the singer: Nick Broomfield’s Whitney: Can I Be Me and Kevin Macdonald’s Whitney. In January, when speaking of a potential biopic, he said he had no interest in “whitewashing” either the singer’s struggles with addiction or her romantic relationship with Robyn Crawford.
In a new statement, he claims that McCarten has committed to a “no holds barred, musically rich screenplay that finally reveals the whole Whitney”.
The project will also be produced by Pat Houston, the singer’s manager and sister-in-law, who will act on behalf of the estate. She has promised an “uplifting and inspiring” film. No director has been confirmed yet but producers are negotiating with Stella Meghie, who recently made the romantic drama The Photograph.
A recent tour, backed by the estate, featuring a hologram of the singer was widely criticised, with the Guardian’s Dave Simpson calling it “deeply unsettling” and Entertainment Weekly’s Emma Madden describing it as “tacky”.
The film is the latest in an ever-expanding subgenre that’s seen a resurgence after the box office success of Bohemian Rhapsody, which made more than $900m worldwide. Upcoming musical biopics include Respect, starring Jennifer Hudson as Aretha Franklin, and Baz Luhrmann’s Elvis.