LAS VEGAS – Whitney Houston finished the first night of CinemaCon on a high note.
The annual convention for movie theater owners and Hollywood studios kicked off with a presentation Monday evening by Sony Pictures, which ended its two-hour panel by showing clips of coming releases, including Tom Hanks drama “A Man Called Otto” and animated movie “Lyle” , Lyle, Crocodile,” featuring the voice of Shawn Mendes as the titular reptile.
But perhaps the most exciting was a brief look at “I Wanna Dance with Somebody,” Houston’s coming biopic starring up-and-comer Naomi Ackie (“Master of None”) as the late music legend.
In the first clip, Ackie donned Houston’s signature curls and a pastel-colored getup as she exuberantly performed the title track. Later, the actress was unrecognizable in a brief glimpse of the pop star’s iconic “Star-Spangled Banner” during the 1991 Super Bowl, belting with her arms outstretched in a white tracksuit and headband.
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Although the footage has not yet been officially released, Houston fans got their own peek at Ackie in the role earlier Monday with the debut of the movie’s poster.
The film is directed by Kasi Lemmons (“Harriet”) and written by Anthony McCarten, whose Queen biopic “Bohemian Rhapsody” took home 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 shepherded Houston’s career, is a producer on the film. He teased the movie in an interview with USA TODAY last year, saying that it strips to tell a “very realistic, very honest story” of her life.
Watching Ackie’s audition tape, “we were very impressed that Whitney’s persona was being captured,” Davis said. “The (singing) voice, of course, will be Whitney’s. When it came to Whitney, we just didn’t think anyone could capture her vocal genius, so it will be the Whitney 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 runs in Las Vegas until Thursday, with other presentations by 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 first look debuts