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TV Critic Breaks Down Why Fans of Whitney Houston Aren’t Really Feeling the New Biopic

*The biopic “Whitney Houston: I Wanna Dance With Somebody,” debuted over the weekend with an estimated $5.3 million in ticket sales, landing in third place at the box office. The drama had a reported production budget of $45 million dollars so its lukewarm opening is considered a disaster by some industry analysts. 

“Once the holiday festivities have come to a close and the weather eases up, the film will hopefully find favor with audiences looking for a brand new film to enjoy and one about this an incredible icon,” Comscore Senior Media Analyst Paul Dergarabedian told Urban Hollywood 411. But film critic Shawn Edwards isn’t so sure, according to the report. 

“Whitney Houston fans love Christmas. They weren’t running out of the house to see this movie during the holidays,” said Edwards, executive producer of the Critics Choice Association’s “Celebration of Black Cinema & TV.

“The release date is terrible. Why didn’t Sony release this in October and capitalize on the popularity of their film, The Woman King, which they released in September,” he added. 

READ MORE: Ashton Sanders on Playing Bobby Brown in New Whitney Houston Biopic | EUR Video Exclusive

Whitney Houston & Bobby Brown - Getty
Whitney Houston & Bobby Brown – Getty

Kasi Lemmons (Eve’s Bayou and Harriet) directed Whitney’s biopic from a script written by Anthony McCarten (Bohemian Rhapsody). The film stars British actress Naomi Ackie as Houston, Ashton Sanders as Bobby Brown, Tamara Tunie as Cissy Houston, Nafessa Williams as Robyn Crawford, and Clarke Peters as John Houston. The film is produced by music producer (and Houston’s former mentor) Clive Davis, who is played in the movie by Stanley Tucci

Speaking previously to Variety, Davis, who signed Whitney to her record contract, said, “I have a mission here. I have a mission to make sure that for all time that the full picture of Whitney Houston is captured in a no-holds-barred film that is musically rich and shows her genius and more of her character than we have seen to date.”

Since the death of the music icon, fans have seen a slew of documentaries on Houston, including a Lifetime movie and BET’s “The Bobby Brown Story.” So now, many fans are wondering what’s new to tell with this latest biopic.

“Every time somebody talked to me about [the film], that’s not a part of the industry, they were like, ‘We’ve already seen this. What’s new? We already know everything. She used to be a model. She started singing. Clive Davis signed her. She had a bunch of hits. She married Bobby Brown. We all knew Robyn was her girlfriend. She was on drugs. She died in the bathtub in the Beverly Hilton. We already knew that,’” Edwards explained to Urban Hollywood 411, adding, “That’s what people on the streets said, that’s not me.”

Edwards is also giving a side-eye to the casting.

“Naomi’s great, but she’s not a star. This movie had no stars. When Universal did Ray, Ray Charles was who? Jamie Foxx. When they did What’s Love Got to Do With It? Tina Turner was Angela Bassett. When they did Respect, Aretha Franklin was Jennifer Hudson. Like nobody in the world knows who Naomi is. She’s not a star,” Edwards said. “Look, Naomi Ackie could land in Kansas City right now and walk into the busiest grocery store in the city and nothing would change.”

I Want to Dance With Somebody

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