Oscar-winning director Kevin Macdonald and producer Simon Chinn and his Lightbox Media partner Jonathan Chinn are partnering with producer Lisa Erspamer on a feature documentary about late singer Whitney Houston. Billed as the official documentary, the film will take a revealing look at the life and genius of the global superstar.
Altitude Film Sales is introducing the project to buyers at Cannes with UK rights acquired by Altitude Film Distribution. Will Clarke, Andy Mayson and Mike Runagall will executive produce.
In March, it was announced that Showtime has begun production on a documentary about Houston’s complicated life and career with Kurt & Courtney director Nick Broomfield helming, producing and narrating. The projects are unrelated.
Macdonald and the producers say they have been given the estate’s blessing to tell the unvarnished and authentic story of the singer’s life. Macdonald will interview Clive Davis, founder and president of Arista Records, currently CCO of Sony Music Entertainment, who is acknowledged for bringing Houston to prominence.
Houston, who died in 2012, remains one of music’s biggest selling artists ever; breaking more records than any other female singer in the history of pop music. With over 200M album sales worldwide, and as the only artist to chart seven consecutive U.S. No. 1s, Houston inspired a generation of singers from Mariah Carey and Lady Gaga to Beyoncé. But she also suffered from addiction. She died at the Beverly Hilton Hotel at age 48, found submerged in a bathtub. The cause of death was reported as drowning and the “effects of atherosclerotic heart disease and cocaine use.”
Houston won two Emmys, six Grammys, and over 20 American Music Awards. She made her feature starring debut in 1992’s The Bodyguard with Kevin Costner. The film grossed $411M worldwide and spawned her version of Dolly Parton’s “I Will Always Love You” which stayed at No. 1 for 14 weeks. She also starred in the motion pictures Waiting To Exhale and The Preacher’s Wife.
Last King Of Scotland helmer Macdonald is also an award-winning documentarian who picked up a Best Documentary Oscar for 1999’s Storyville: One Day In September, and was nominated for a BAFTA with 2012’s Marley. Simon Chinn produced Oscar winners Searching For Sugarman and Man On Wire. Jonathan Chinn was an Emmy winner for 2000’s American High. Erspamer, a former executive producer of The Oprah Winfrey Show, was nominated for a primetime Emmy with 2013 doc Running From Crazy.
The film will be released in the UK in 2017. Altitude last year released Asif Kapadia’s Oscar and BAFTA-winning Amy Winehouse doc, Amy, last year, which grossed a record-breaking £3.8M at the local box office.