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]

19-year-old Sparkle Anderson (Jordin Sparks) attends a concert that her eldest sister, 28-year-old Tammy "Sister" Anderson (Carmen Ejogo) performs in as well. When Sister performs, she catches the eye of Stix (Derek Luke) and Black (Cee Lo Green). They try to talk to Sister unsuccessfully. As Sister and Sparkle arrive home, their middle sister, 24-year-old Delores "Dee" Anderson (Tika Sumpter), helps the sisters avoid getting caught by Emma Anderson (Whitney Houston), their overprotective mother.

Stix then tries to assemble a group with Sister, Sparkle and Dee, while finding out about Sparkle's musical talent and developing a romance with her (to the disapproval of her mother). Meanwhile, Levi (Omari Hardwick) starts to get romantically involved with Sister. However, these attempts to seduce her backfire when Satin Struthers (Mike Epps) starts flirting with her. Sparkle and Stix also arrange a way to convince Sister to join the group, which proves to be successful.

At the group's first performance, Sister wows the crowd with her seductive performance, which catches all the men's eyes, including Satin's (much to the discomfort of Levi). The sisters become a popular act and are invited back to perform at various clubs throughout Detroit.

Emma invites her minister Reverend Bryce (Michael Beach), Sarah Waters (Tamela Mann), as well as Ms. Waters's 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, resulting in a fight between Emma, Satin and Sister taking place. Sister is kicked out of the household after she decides to go with Satin instead of staying for dinner.

Meanwhile, the group enjoys more success, even opening for Aretha Franklin on a television show and engaging in talks about a record deal with Columbia Records executive Larry. However, troubles occur when Dee and Sparkle find out about Satin's abuse towards Sister, Sister's drug abuse, and when Emma finds out about the group (which leads to Emma scolding Dee and Sparkle). As a result, their talks with Columbia Records got terminated. Stix tries to get Sparkle to leave with him and get married; she, however, turns down Stix's proposal.

At Satin and Sister's home, Dee and Sparkle try to get Sister to leave the relationship and get help for her cocaine problem but Satin shows up demanding Dee and Sparkle leave. When Dee and Sparkle refuse to leave without Sister, Satin strikes Sparkle, which leads to all three sisters in a fight with Satin. Dee strikes Satin with a fire rod, which proves to be fatal for the comedian. Sister takes full blame for the entire ordeal, getting charged with manslaughter. 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 for Medical College. Dee, Emma and Sparkle exchange in farewells.

Sparkle visits Sister in prison and Sparkle delivers news to her about the family. Soon after, Sparkle moves out of Emma's home and rents her own apartment. Sparkle is now determined to follow her dreams and shows up at Columbia Records, eventually obtaining promises for a record deal, if she puts on a solid musical showcase. 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. As Sparkle sings, Stix brings Sparkle a piece of cake to celebrate her 20th birthday and proposes to her. Emma goes to visit Sister in prison and the two have a talk about their relationship.

It is the day of the concert, and Sparkle gets so excited her nose bleeds. Sparkle starts to panic, hoping she can stop the bleeding to begin the show. Emma shows up with a new dress for Sparkle. Emma congratulates Sparkle on her concert 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, as the crowd cheers.


  • Jordin Sparks as Sparkle Anderson - A 19-year-old girl and the 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 pursuing a career in the music industry.
  • 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 of the family. She's 24 years of age, confident and smart. 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.
  • 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 the Andersons' 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, but she dropped out shortly after.[citation needed] 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 88 reviews 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 2015-07-28. 
  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. ^
  35. ^
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  38. ^ Caulfield, Keith (August 9, 2012). "Whitney Houston Greatest Hits Album Coming This Fall". The Hollywood Reporter. 
  39. ^

External links[edit]