LAS VEGAS — Whitney Houston ended the first night of CinemaCon on a high note.
The annual convention of movie theater owners and Hollywood studios kicked off Monday night with a presentation from Sony Pictures, which ended its two-hour panel by showing clips from upcoming releases, including Tom Hanks’ drama “A Man Called Otto” and the animated film “Lyle, Lyle, Crocodile,” featuring the voice of Shawn Mendes as the titular reptile.
But perhaps most exciting was a brief look at “I Wanna Dance with Somebody,” the upcoming Houston biopic starring newcomer Naomi Ackie (“Master of None”) as the legend of deceased music.
In the first clip, Ackie donned Houston’s signature curls and a pastel-colored outfit as she exuberantly performed the title track. Later, the actress looked unrecognizable in a brief glimpse of the pop star’s iconic “Star-Spangled Banner” during the 1991 Super Bowl, belting her outstretched arms in a white tracksuit and headband.
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Although the images have yet to be officially released, fans in Houston got their own glimpse of Ackie in the role earlier Monday with the launch of the film’s poster.
The film is directed by Stella Meghie (“The Photograph”) and written by Anthony McCarten, whose Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” won four Oscars in 2019, including Best Actor for Rami Malek for his transformative turn as Freddie. Mercury.
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Music mogul Clive Davis, who led Houston’s career, is the film’s producer. He teased the film in an interview with USA TODAY last year, saying it strives to tell a “very realistic and very honest story” of his life.
Watching Ackie’s audition tape, “we were very impressed that Whitney’s character was captured,” Davis said. “The (singing) voice, of course, will be Whitney’s. As for Whitney, we just didn’t think anyone could capture her vocal genius, so it will be Whitney’s voice in the film.”
“I Wanna Dance with Somebody” also features Stanley Tucci as Davis and Ashton Sanders (“Moonlight”) as Houston’s husband Bobby Brown.
CinemaCon is taking place in Las Vegas through Thursday, with other presentations from major studios including Disney and Warner Bros.
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This article originally appeared on USA TODAY: Whitney Houston Movie: Naomi Ackie’s Stunning Debut