Jordin Sparks, Whitney Houston in 2012's "Sparkle"
(Credit: Alicia Gbur/Sony) (CBS/AP) Critics and theater owners got a sneak peek of Whitney Houston's final film, "Sparkle," Wednesday night at the CinemaCon conference in Las Vegas. And they say they liked what they saw. Houston served as executive producer of the movie, which had already finished filming in Detroit when she died in Beverly Hills on Feb. 11 at age 48.
A brief preview featured Houston's trademark dazzling smile as she danced in a living room in celebration.
The remake of the 1976 movie stars Houston as the mother of three girls who form a singing group and struggle with fame and drug addiction. The movie, scheduled for release in August, was seen as a comeback vehicle for the superstar, whose career suffered in recent years as she battled with drug and alcohol abuse.
The preview footage largely focused on Jordin Sparks, who was seen playing a piano in a modest home, glasses dangling from her nose. In later scenes, she appeared glammed up in sparkling, curve-hugging gowns. It's the "American Idol" winner's first notable Hollywood role.
Cee Lo Green also sings in the movie.
Houston labored for 12 years to get "Sparkle" on the big screen. The film marked her first return to cinema since 1996's "The Preacher's Wife." Her Hollywood debut came 20 years ago in the blockbuster movie "The Bodyguard."
There's already some Oscar buzz building, with Access Hollywood movie critic Scott Mantz suggesting, "I'm calling this now: Whitney Houston will get nominated for Best Supporting Actress for 'Sparkle.'"
Whitney is throwin' some serious heat in her scenes. She is burnin' up the screen with intensity. If her performance is consistent, they will have to rob her again for her not to win an Oscar for supporting actress.
And we are not the only ones who think it looks like she is in the running. This is the second critic to mention the word "Oscar." Remember the guy from Access Hollywood when the trailer first came out: