Whitney Houston's 'Sparkle': Could it come before August?
On Monday morning, Radar Online quoted an anonymous source at Sony saying the release date for the movie, in which Houston plays the mother of aspiring pop singers, is being moved up from Aug. 17 because of fan interest. The film “could be released as early as Memorial Day,” Radar quoted the source as saying.
Shortly afterward, a Sony spokesman said that the report was "not true" and that the film would be released on schedule on the third weekend of August. So for now, it appears to be sitting pat.
A remake of a 1976 Irene Cara movie, "Sparkle" is still technically in postproduction, though a rough cut has been completed. According to executive producer Howard Rosenman, who said he saw that cut just last week, Houston shines in the film. "She is genius in the movie and it would have been a giant comeback for her," he told 24 Frames.
The original "Sparkle" told the story of the Williams sisters, a trio of 1950s-era Harlem singers whose stories were loosely inspired by the Supremes. Headed by Lonette McKee's Sister, the group also features Sister's sister Sparkle (Cara), Dolores (Dawn Smith) and several friends. As they begin to find success, though, Sister's life spirals out of control, with drug addiction eventually leading to her death.
The new version, directed by Salim Akil ("Jumping the Broom," television series "The Game"), is believed to follow a similar story line, with Jordin Sparks as the titular character who must find a way to achieve stardom despite the drama surrounding her family. Houston plays Emma, the sisters' less-than-encouraging mother. (The original character, named Effie in the 1976 film, was incarnated by Mary Alice.)
How will the new "Sparkle" fare when it comes out? The Whitney factor will certainly drive interest, with the addiction plotline giving it an eerie resonance.
But it will need a certain kind of publicity help. Despite doing big business on the small screen, movies about aspiring singers have been disappointments; in the past two years, films such as "Country Strong," "Joyful Noise" and "Burlesque" have all underperformed at the box office.
-- Steven Zeitchik and Julie Makinen
Photo: Jordin Sparks and Whitney Houston in "Sparkle." Credit: Sony Pictures