TV & Movies

Don’t Expect I Wanna Dance With Somebody To Be Streaming Anytime Soon

Naomi Ackie’s portrayal of the legendary singer will likely be confined to an in-theater experience for now.

Naomi Ackie as Whitney Houston in 'I Wanna Dance With Somebody'
Sony Pictures

Whitney Houston’s life story has been told many times over in made-for-TV specials and limited series over the years, but I Wanna Dance With Somebody, starring Naomi Ackie, promises to be different. The first trailers were released in late 2022, and the film lands in theaters December 23, 2022, just in time to get all of your friends together to see just how Hollywood plans on re-telling Whitney’s long, rollercoaster-ride of a career and personal life.

But first, it must be noted: Ackie isn’t actually singing in most of I Wanna Dance With Somebody. Most of the singing vocals in the movie are actually Whitney’s, with Ackie lip-syncing. Producer Clive Davis noted that Ackie has some singing chops, but who can really (really, really) actually do Houston’s legendary voice? “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,” he told USA Today. Still, Ackie practiced some of Whitney’s more iconic mannerisms, like the way she twirls her hand while talking in interviews. She told the A.V. Club, “The thing that I love about Whitney the most is how she always knew her voice was there. For the majority of her career, she didn’t push it too much. She didn’t over-practice or over-rehearse. She was very relaxed, because she had all the faith in her ability.”

In an interview with The San Diego Union-Tribune, she added that she didn’t mind the criticism that she doesn’t look like Whitney; in fact, it helped her take on the role. “It gave me freedom to create a new version of something everyone knows. This film is an impressionist version of a real person. The thing I learned the most is that it was not about imitating someone to a ‘t’ and looking and talking exactly like them. It was having the freedom to share their essence, because there’s no one else like Whitney — and there shouldn’t be,” she said.

Here’s where to watch Ackie do her thing.

Where To Stream I Wanna Dance With Somebody

I Wanna Dance With Somebody hits theaters Dec. 23, and won’t be available for streaming for some time. Because the movie is a Sony Pictures project, there are only so many services that will be able to stream the movie eventually. In April 2021, Sony and Netflix signed a deal that would allow the service to stream Sony movies after about six months of their theatrical release, though it has also started doing some movies straight to streaming with the service as well.

This means I Wanna Dance With Somebody could hit Netflix sometime in early Summer 2023, though it could be earlier. Eventually, Sony films will also hit Disney+ and Hulu after their Netflix debut, per Indiewire, and will likely not be available to stream on HBO Max anytime in even the distant future. The film will likely be available for purchase eventually on Amazon Prime, however.

What Critics Are Saying About I Wanna Dance With Somebody

When the trailer first premiered for the latest Whitney Houston biopic, fans were rightfully a little concerned. Some felt like Ackie might not be able to pull it off, while there was also some worry that the film might not do Whitney’s life and career justice, as some other projects have reportedly left fans a little cold in the past. But initial reviews have been kind to the latest retelling of her story.

Tanesha Peeples at the Black Wall Street Times noted that as a huge fan, the movie opened her eyes to parts of Whitney’s life she didn’t really know about, as it digs deeper into her relationship with her mother and Robyn Crawford, whom she was reportedly romantically involved with. Rolling Stone noted that there wasn’t all that much added in the new take, but that it was a worthwhile celebration of Whitney’s life and career for fans. Once it hits theaters and eventually Netflix, people will certainly have a whole lot more to say about it.