Sparkle (2012 film)

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Theatrical release poster
Directed by Salim Akil
Produced by Debra Martin Chase
TD Jakes
Whitney Houston
Curtis Wallace
Salim Akil
Mara Brock Akil
Written by Mara Brock Akil
Howard Rosenman
Based on Sparkle 
by Joel Schumacher
Howard Rosenman[1]
Starring Jordin Sparks
Whitney Houston
Derek Luke
Mike Epps
Tamela Mann
Carmen Ejogo
Tika Sumpter
Omari Hardwick
Cee Lo Green
Music by R. Kelly
Curtis Mayfield
Kier Lehman
André DeJuan
Cinematography Anastas N. Michos
Edited by Terilyn A. Shropshire
Distributed by TriStar Pictures
Release dates
  • August 17, 2012 (2012-08-17)
Running time
116 minutes[2]
Country United States
Language English
Budget $14 million[3]
Box office $24,637,469 [4]

Sparkle is a 2012 American musical film directed by Salim Akil and produced by Stage 6 Films. It was released on August 17, 2012 by TriStar Pictures. Inspired by The Supremes, Sparkle is a remake of the 1976 film of the same name, which centered on three singing teenage sisters from Harlem who form a girl group in the late 1950s. The remake takes place in Detroit, Michigan in the 1960s during the Motown era.[5]

The film stars Jordin Sparks, Derek Luke, Whitney Houston, Mike Epps, Cee Lo Green, Carmen Ejogo, Tika Sumpter, Tamela Mann, Cory Pritchett and Omari Hardwick. Sparkle features songs from the original film written by soul musician Curtis Mayfield as well as new compositions by R&B artist R. Kelly.[6][7] This film is the debut of R&B/pop singer and American Idol winner Jordin Sparks as an actress. Sparkle also marks Whitney Houston's final feature film role before her death on February 11, 2012, three months after filming ended.[8] The film is dedicated to her memory.

Plot summary[edit]

Detroit, Michigan 1968, A nightclub MC named Red introduces a local singer Black. While Black performs, Stix, an aspiring record label executive is watching in the club, meanwhile 19-year-old Sparkle Anderson talks with her eldest sister, 28-year-old Tammy "Sister" Anderson backstage or in "the kitchen". After performing Black encounters Sister and Sparkle backstage, attempting to flirt with Sister, but instead of accepting his advances she teases him by cutting the side of her dress and puts the neck of her dress in the inside of her dress. When it's time for Sister to perform she walks out of the kitchen leaving Black to follow, as they pass Stix. Sister walks onstage and sings the song "Yes I do". Stix and Black are amazed by Sister's voice and tries to talk to Sister but they have left. They get on the back of a bus and Sister tells Sparkle she's not singing anymore songs.

As Sister and Sparkle arrive home, their middle sister, 24-year-old Delores/Dee, opens the door and they sneak upstairs to their room to avoid having their mother hear them come in. The next morning while at church Stix along with his older cousin Levi spot Sister, Dee, and Sparkle sitting in the choir. Levi tells Stix that Sister, Dee, and Sparkle are siblings with equal musical talent, and Stix is interested in meeting Sparkle. After church, Stix and Sparkle meet and talk for a while, as Sparkle's mother Emma notices and looks on disapprovingly. Ms. Waters, Emma's long time best friend, points out that Emma's oldest daughter Sister is almost 30, and due to a bad romance in New York City was forced to move back to Detroit to live with Emma. Later that night Emma hosts a Bible study at her home in which both Levi and Stix are present, however Levi takes the time to make a date with Sister who is uninterested and not participating in her mother's Bible study. After Emma and everyone leave the house, Stix secretly stays behind and notices Sparkle playing an original song that she wrote while playing a piano and finds out about Sparkle's musical talent and that she wrote the song Sister was singing at the club he then tries to encourage Sparkle to sing. A few nights later Stix comes to Sparkle's home to take her on a date at a nightclub. Sparkle tells Stix that her mother was a former singer and about the ups and downs her mother faced.

One day after church,Stix tries to convince Dee and Sister to form a music group with Sparkle. Dee explains that she will take part in order to make enough money for medical school and then quit, while Sister is undecided as she will be starting a new job working at a department store. She leaves the room feeling angry about Stix used her to talk to her sisters. Levi takes Sister out on a date at a restaurant and confesses his feelings for her and gives her a green velvet ring box. Sister opens the ring box that has a picture of a ring.

Levi promises he will give her a real ring once he can afford it. Satin Struthers is a wealthy comedian who with his escort sees the two and threatens him twice while bragging to Sister about his wealth. Levi is fed up with what happened and leaves with Sister. She leaves with all her stuff; but Levi is shocked to find out she left the ring box and gets it. Levi opens the door for Sister when Satin takes a picture of Sister with a camera of Sister as she walks out the door.

While at Emma's dress boutique, Ms. Waters shows Sparkle old photos of Emma with Sisters and Sparkle's father and photos of Emma with Dee's father, explaining how different Emma was when she was at the time. Emma brings a new mannequin into the shop while Ms. Waters tease Emma about her love life. Emma tells Sparkle to get some lunch and She will help Ms. Waters try on a dress. Meanwhile, Sparkle leaves and goes to a record store where she sees Stix again. The two reconcile and arrange a way for Sparkle to convince her big sisters to join in.

Sister comes home with a new check and her sisters are surprised to find she only earned $96. Sparkle tells Sister they will earn more money if they enter the Cliff Belles Talent Contest at a club. Sister accepts only for the money.

Levi drives the sisters to the club where Stix is waiting for them and they watch as another girl group (Goapele) perform their song, "Running". Sister, at the last minute, changes their routine and tells her sisters to follow her lead. Sister wows the crowd with her seductive performance of "Hooked on Your Love". Satin watches Sister perform and is mesmerized as Levi becomes uncomfortable noticing the attention Sister is getting from Satin and other men. The sisters become a popular act and are invited back to perform at various clubs throughout Detroit singing their new song "Jump". Sister, Sparkle and Dee sit in a dressing room as Stix and Levi come to congratulate them on their performance. Levi hands Sister a bouquet of flowers telling her how proud he was of her but Satin soon comes in giving Sister a "real ring" in a ring box which she eagerly accepts. Levi sees this gesture suddenly enrages Levi and he begins to fight with Satin but is pulled away by Stix. Afterwards Levi confronts Stix in the hallway about not sticking up for him during the fight with Satin since they are cousins.

Emma invites her minister Reverend Bryce, Ms. Waters and her daughter Bertha over for dinner after church. The dinner is interrupted when Sister brings Satin over with whom she is now engaged to. Satin makes insulting and rude remarks at the dinner and Emma makes her dislike for him known. In response Sister lashes out at Emma criticizing her for having her as a teen then forcing Sister to raise Sparkle and Dee as Emma had passed out drunk occasionally while trying to pursue a music career. Emma tells Sister that if she leaves with Satin she is never to come back. Sister packs her suitcase and leaves with Satin.

Dee, Sparkle and a visibly high Sister rehearse for a performance at Satin and Sister's home until Satin comes into the room and interrupts telling Dee and Sparkle to leave. The girls are invited to open for Aretha Franklin on a television show, and while Dee and Sparkle get ready, Sister walks in with a black eye. Sparkle and Dee realize that Satin has been beating Sister and has gotten her hooked on cocaine causing a fight between the three. Sister then puts on her makeup and gets high telling her sisters: "Sister can't fly on one wing." That evening, Sparkle, Sister and Dee perform a stunning sexy version of "Something He Can Feel" when Emma happens to wake up and catches a glimpse of it on television. After their performance, Stix introduces the girls to Columbia Records executive Larry who offers to sign them as a group. When Satin tell Sister to come home with him but Sparkle and Dee stands up for their Sister and tells Satin to leave. Dee and Sparkle tries to convince Sister to come home with them and leave Satin, but as they leave their dressing room Sister spots Satin and goes to him. At home Emma scolds Sparkle and Dee about trying to pursue a career in the music industry behind her back and throws away a book of Sparkle's book of song lyrics in the trash. Emma gives Sparkle an ultimatum that if she wants to continue living with her she must give up pursuing a music career.

At a club, Satin is performing for his first all-black audience but his jokes are trite, pandering, and ill received. Levi who is sitting in the audience with a new woman and begins to mock him, receiving more laughs from the audience than Satin, prompting an angered and annoyed Satin tempts to attack Levi. Levi sees an obviously high, unhappy Sister walking out of the club behind Satin and sarcastically tells her "she's never looked better." Satin and Sister run to their car and drive home,where Satin chases Sister through the home beating her mercilessly. Dee, Sparkle, and Sister have a meeting with Columbia Records; Dee and Sparkle arrive and can't find Sister, but soon find her in a utility room beaten up with bruises all over her. Dee questions Sister about what is going on between Satin and her, finding out she is addicted to Heroin too,but she lies telling them she is fine and asked Sparkle for to give her some cocaine, but Dee tells Sparkle not to because she is more focused on getting a record deal and not focused on helping Sister. After hearing rumors that Sister is now an abused junkie, Stix, Larry, and Columbia executives find the sisters in the backroom and notice Sister beaten with a broken cocaine vial on the floor in front of her. Stix tries to get Sparkle to leave with him and get married declaring that they could move to California, and start a new life together. Sparkle however turns down Stix's proposal, saying her sisters and mother need her.

At Satin and Sister's home, Dee and Sparkle try to get Sister to leave and get help for her cocaine problem but Satin shows up demanding Dee and Sparkle leave. When Dee and Sparkle insist they're not leaving without Sister, Satin strikes Sparkle. Sister becomes infuriated and lashes out at Satin attacking him. Soon all three of the sisters are in a fight with Satin then Dee strikes Satin in the back of the head with a fire iron as he attempts to hit Sparkle again. Satin falls to the ground unconscious then Dee tries to administer CPR, but the sisters realize Satin is dead. Sister orders Sparkle and Dee to leave the house where she begins to cry in misery over the mistake of allowing herself to love Satin. When the police arrive, Sister pleads self-defense, and is charged with manslaughter taking the full blame for the entire ordeal. As Sister's arrest makes newspaper headlines, a saddened Emma leads her church choir in a performance of "His Eye is on the Sparrow". After church, Emma arrives home to find Dee packing up to leave. Dee tells Emma that she was accepted to Meharry Medical College, and must leave at that moment in order to start researching scholarships to pay for her schooling. Dee thanks Emma for her strict rules and tells her that she loves her. Sparkle waves good-bye to Dee from her window as her cab pulls off.

Sparkle visits Sister in prison and tells her about Dee getting into medical school. Sister assures Sparkle that she'd be getting out in two to three years and that she was clean now. She asks about Sparkle and Stix's relationship, in which Sparkle tells her that she and Stix broke up. Sister tells Sparkle not to visit her anymore when Sparkle almost makes the mistake of saying she was involved in the crime. Soon after, Sparkle moves out of Emma's home and rents her own apartment. Sparkle determined is now to follow her dreams shows up at Columbia Records everyday until she gets a meeting with Larry. She convinces Larry to give her a shot, but she must first put on a musical showcase to seal the deal. Sparkle reaches out to Stix to help her set up her first solo concert. Sparkle attempts to invite her mother, but Emma is not interested.

As Sparkle rehearses for her show, Stix tells Sparkle a way to overcome her stage fright is by closing her eyes and sing. As Sparkle sings(Look into your heart) Stix brings Sparkle a piece of cake with a birthday candle on to celebrate her 20th birthday. Sparkle close her eyes makes a wish and tells Stix to ask her what she wish for, then she tells him that she wish that Stix propose to her better, stix then propose to Sparkle again by giving her a candy ring and promises to give her a better ring depending on how their relationship goes. As a result they share a kiss and a hug. Emma goes to visit Sister in prison and the two have a talk about their relationship. Sparkle gets so excited her nose bleeds and Sparkle starts to panic hoping she can stop the bleeding to begin the show. Emma shows up with a new dress; while sparkle try on a red sparkly dress Emma to tell her that she's proud Sparkle has decided to follow her dreams, and wishes her good luck. Sparkle goes out on stage and performs "One Wing", a song which she dedicates to Sister. A proud Emma and Ms. Waters watches in the audience while Stix and Larry watch from the side of the stage. Larry informs Stix that he wants to sign Sparkle. As the closing credits begin, Sparkle's show continues with her performing a song titled "Love Will", as the crowd cheers.


  • Jordin Sparks as Sparkle Anderson- 19 year old, youngest sibling in her family. She has a passion for singing but is unable to pursue a career due to her foreboding mother's rules against singing
  • Whitney Houston as Emma Anderson- An overprotective, retired Professional singer. She forbids her 3 daughters from pursuing a career in music due to her own past experiences.
  • Derek Luke as Stix- an ambitious manager of Sister and her sister's singing group and Sparkle's love interest.
  • Mike Epps as Satin Struthers- A comedian who becomes involved in an abusive relationship with Sister.
  • Carmen Ejogo as Tammy "Sister" Anderson- The oldest of the 3 sisters who displays more rebellion and a stronger desire for the fast life than either of her sisters.
  • Tika Sumpter as Delores "Dee" Anderson- The middle child and second oldest sister in her family. She's 24 years of age, she's confident, smart, and her ambition is to attend medical school to become a doctor.
  • Omari Hardwick as Levison "Levi" Robinson- Stix's Oldest Cousin whose in love with Sister and tries to prove it to her but he ends up getting back at Satin after she chooses him over Levi.
  • Terrence J as Red - A MC at the Discovery Club
  • Cee Lo Green as Black- A chubby, flirty well-known male singer that sings at the Discovery Club.
  • Tamela Mann as Mrs. Sarah Waters- Emma's honest close friend
  • Brely Evans as Tune Ann Waters
  • Michael Beach as Reverend Bryce - The Reverend of their Church
  • Kem L. Owens as Buddy - The host


The original Sparkle, produced by The Robert Stigwood Organization in 1975 and released by Warner Bros. Pictures in 1976, starred Philip Michael Thomas, Irene Cara, Lonette McKee and Mary Alice, with songs and score composed and produced by Curtis Mayfield. One song from the Sparkle soundtrack, "Something He Can Feel", became a hit single for both Aretha Franklin (in 1976) and En Vogue (in 1992).


In the mid-1990s, BrownHouse Productions, run by Whitney Houston and Debra Martin Chase, secured the rights to a Sparkle remake from Warner Bros. Houston had intended to cast R&B singer Aaliyah in the lead role as Sparkle, but due to Aaliyah's untimely death in August 2001, before the film went into production plans to remake the film were put on hold. In 2005, it was revealed Raven-Symoné was cast in the leading role. Following the 2011 release of their first feature, Jumping the Broom, Salim Akil and Mara Brock Akil, the creative team behind the TV series The Game and Girlfriends, took on Sparkle as their next project, with Houston executive producing and starring as the mother of the three girls.[9][10] Following her initial audition Jordin Sparks had been called back several times before finally landing the title role. Brandy Norwood had auditioned for the role of Deloris but it was eventually decided that it would be given to Tika Sumpter, instead Brandy was given the role of "Chardonnay" on The Game.[11]

Production began on October 10, 2011 in Detroit.[12] Filming wrapped up in early November 2011, with a release date scheduled for August 17, 2012.[13] The official trailer for Sparkle was released on April 2, 2012 and premiered on Today[14][15] with the release of the trailer the films producer Debra Martin Chase said she had mixed emotions with the trailer's release "On the one hand, I'm so excited about the movie and we're really happy with how it turned out," she said. "(But) just to have it said yet again that this is Whitney's last performance, it's hard. It's hard." [16]

Howard Rosenman, the original's producer-writer and executive producer of the 2012 remake, said a novelization of the film will be released on August 7, 2012 by Simon & Schuster.[17] Rosenman said Houston was influenced by the original film as a girl and once went to see it every day for a week when she was a teenager.[18] It apparently helped plant the dream in her to become a singer. When the new version was coming together, Rosenman approached her to play the girls' mother. She has two musical numbers in the film and on the soundtrack. Rosenman plans to team with director Joel Schumacher, one of the screenwriters of the original 1976 film, to add five new songs to those by Curtis Mayfield (in the original) and R. Kelly (in the 2012 version) for a Broadway musical of Sparkle.[19]


In December 2011, Sony announced the United States release date for Sparkle would be set for August 10, 2012.[20][21] This was later pushed back by a week to August 17, 2012 due to Whitney Houston's death.[22][23]

Critical response[edit]

The movie received mixed to positive reviews.[24] Sparkle received an A on Cinemascore. Critic reviews for Sparkle so far have been generally mixed to positive, receiving a 57% on review aggregator Rotten Tomatoes and a consensus stating: "While undeniably melodramatic and old-fashioned, Sparkle transcends its formulaic trappings thanks to Salim Akil's empathetic direction and strong performances from a committed cast" based on 63 review with an average rating of 5.7/10.[25] Metacritic, another review aggregator, assigned the film a weighted average score of 55 out of 100 based on 25 reviews from mainstream critics, considered to be "mixed or average reviews".[26]

Critical praise has particularly been given to Carmen Ejogo's performance. Film critic Roger Ebert of The Chicago Sun-Times awarded the film 3 stars, claiming Ejojo "steals the film not only in her sultry singing numbers but in her violent marriage to a snaky, evil comedian named Satin."[27] While giving the film a negative review, The Globe and Mail critic Courtney Shea stated Ejogo, in comparison to Sparks' performance, was "in fact more dynamic, sexy and, dare we say, Bootylicious than the real thing – plays hardened vulnerability to perfection, so much so that you wonder (given her 38 years) where Hollywood has been hiding her."[28] Mick LaSalle of the San Francisco Chronicle went as far as to suggest in his review that Ejogo's performance might place her under serious consideration for a Best Supporting Actress Oscar nomination. LaSalle comments: "...very few people will walk out of Sparkle talking about either Sparks or Houston, at least not at first. Instead they will be saying, "Who was that?" And they'll be referring to Carmen Ejogo...If there is any justice, Ejogo will become very famous very soon. As in, maybe today...It's rare to see someone become a movie star right before your eyes, but that's what happens with Ejogo in Sparkle....For an actress, this was the opportunity of a lifetime, and Ejogo plays it that way. She leaves nothing out, holds nothing back."[29]

Box office[edit]

In its opening weekend, the film grossed $11,643,342 in 2,244 theaters in the United States and Canada, ranking #5 at the box office.[30] Sparkle has grossed $24,397,469 domestically.[30]


Black Reel Awards[edit]

Year Recipient / Nominated work Award Result
2013 Salim Akil Best Director Nominated
Twinkie Byrd Best Cast (Ensemble) Nominated
Salaam Remi Best Original Score Nominated
Mara Brock Akil Best Screenplay, Original or Adapted Nominated
Whitney Houston, Jordin Sparks, R. Kelly - "Celebrate" Best Original Song Nominated
Mike Epps Best Supporting Actor Nominated

BET Awards[edit]

Year Recipient / Nominated work Award Result
2013 Sparkle [31] Best Movie Nominated


The soundtrack's first official lead single is the last song recorded by Houston before her death on February 11, 2012, a duet with R&B/pop singer and American Idol winner Jordin Sparks on a song called "Celebrate".[32] The song premiered on On Air with Ryan Seacrest on May 21, 2012[33] and was made available for digital download on iTunes on June 5.[34] Whitney Houston's other track, "His Eye is on the Sparrow", debuted only one day after the premiere of "Celebrate".[35] The official music video for "Celebrate" was filmed on May 30, 2012.[36] It made its world premiere on BET's 106 & Park on June 27, 2012.[37] For the week ending August 18, 2012 Sparkle: Original Motion Picture Soundtrack debuted on the Billboard 200 at #26, #7 on the Billboard Hot R&B/Hip-Hop Songs, and #1 on the Billboard Soundtracks chart.[38]

Home media[edit]

Sparkle was released on DVD and Blu-ray on November 30, 2012.[39]


  1. ^ Sparkle: Official Site
  2. ^ "SPARKLE (12A)". British Board of Film Classification. 2012-08-09. Retrieved 2012-12-28. 
  3. ^ Siegel, Tatiana (2012-01-04). "Every tuner's a miracle". Variety. 
  4. ^
  5. ^ Sneider, Jeff (2011-09-12). "Whitney Houston (died February 11, 2012), Jordin Sparks 'Sparkle' for Sony - Entertainment News, Film News, Media". Variety. Retrieved 2011-11-18. 
  6. ^ ‘Sparkle’s’ Brely Evans Says Give the Remake a Chance | EURweb
  7. ^ "Whitney Houston's Sparkling Big-Screen Comeback". 2011-11-07. Retrieved 2011-11-18. 
  8. ^ Emily Exton (2011-09-13). "Jordin Sparks To Make Film Debut In "Sparkle"". Popdust. Retrieved 2011-11-18. 
  9. ^ "Whitney Houston in Talks for ‘Sparkle’ Remake, Jordin Sparks to Star in Film". 2011-09-13. Retrieved 2011-11-18. 
  10. ^ "Whitney Houston to shine in 'Sparkle'? | Welcome to". 2011-09-14. Retrieved 2011-11-18. 
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  12. ^ Sneider, Jeff (2011-09-23). "Cee-Lo Green joins 'Sparkle' cast - Entertainment News, Top News, Media". Variety. Retrieved 2011-11-18. 
  13. ^ Sneider, Jeff (2011-12-08). "Sony dates a trio of pics". Variety. 
  14. ^ Whitney Houston shines in exclusive clip from final film 'Sparkle' - TODAY Entertainment
  15. ^ Sparkle Official Trailer #1 - Whitney Houston Movie (2012) HD on YouTube
  16. ^ "Whitney Houston movie trailer debuts (+video)". The New Zealand Herald. April 3, 2012. [dead link]
  17. ^
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  19. ^ Ginsberg, Merle (June 14, 2012). "Whitney Houston's 'Sparkle' Film Headed to Book Form, Eyeing Broadway". The Hollywood Reporter. 
  20. ^ Sneider, Jeff (December 8, 2011). "Sony dates a trio of pics". Variety. 
  21. ^ Stewart, Andrew (February 12, 2012). "'Sparkle' to stick with Aug. release date". Variety. 
  22. ^ Release Date For "Sparkle" Remake Gets Pushed Back | Shadow and Act
  23. ^ Stewart, Andrew (February 12, 2012). "'Sparkle' to stick with Aug. release date". Variety. 
  24. ^ "citation needed". 
  25. ^ "Sparkle (2012)". Rotten Tomatoes. Flixster, Inc. Retrieved 2012-08-18. 
  26. ^ "Sparkle Reviews, Ratings, Credits, and More". Metacritic. CBS Interactive. Retrieved 2012-08-18. 
  27. ^ Ebert, Roger (2012-08-16). "Sparkle :: :: Reviews". Chicago Sun-Times. Sun-Times Media Group. Retrieved 2012-08-18. 
  28. ^ Shea, Courtney (2012-08-17). "Sparkle: Amid the schlock, a glimpse of what made Houston great". Toronto: The Globe and Mail. Retrieved 2012-08-17. 
  29. ^ LaSalle, Mick (2012-08-16). "'Sparkle' review: Carmen Ejogo's star quality". San Francisco Chronicle. Retrieved 2012-08-19. 
  30. ^ a b "Weekend Box Office Results for August 17-19, 2012". Box Office Mojo. Retrieved September 14, 2012. 
  31. ^
  32. ^
  33. ^ Ballhorn, Kelly (May 21, 2012). "WORLD PREMIERE: Whitney Houston & Jordin Sparks Duet ‘Celebrate’ From ‘Sparkle’ [AUDIO]". Retrieved May 21, 2012. 
  34. ^!/sparklemovie/status/204684417338322945
  35. ^
  36. ^
  37. ^
  38. ^ Caulfield, Keith (August 9, 2012). "Whitney Houston Greatest Hits Album Coming This Fall". The Hollywood Reporter. 
  39. ^

External links[edit]