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'Sparkle': Late Whitney Houston on being 'like their mother' to costars -- EXCLUSIVE VIDEO

Sparkle may have earned mixed reviews from critics when it came out this year, but the musical set in the late 1960s starring the late, great Whitney Houston as a fierce, loving mama to three singing sisters — Jordin Sparks, Carmen Ejogo, and Tika Sumpter — showcases the controversy-plagued icon at a stable, hopeful point before her accidental drowning in February.

Check out this exclusive video clip, below, from extras on the movie’s Blu-ray, out this Friday, of Houston gushing about her younger costars. “They are the three most warm and loving and supportive young women that I’ve come across in a long time,” says Houston. “I have really come to be like their mother in a sense. I’m so proud of them, I don’t know what to do.”

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Box office report: 'Expendables 2' shoots to the top with $28.8 million, but newcomers don't 'Sparkle'

Four weeks after the shootings in Aurora, Colo., the box office remains in a relative slump — despite performing over 20 percent better than the same weekends in 2011 and 2010.

According to industry consulting firm Screen Engine, 17 percent of moviegoers are still reluctant to head to the theater following the shooting. While that number has dropped from the 21 percent who claimed they were reluctant one week after the shooting, it’s still telling — and discouraging — for Hollywood. Fortunately, moviegoers have a lot of options to choose from. When the top seven movies at the box office all earn over $10 million, it’s clear that the box office isn’t in totally dire straits, but it doesn’t seem to be firing on all cylinders.

Sylvester Stallone and his weathered crew of grizzly action stars (and fresh-faced Liam Hemsworth) pushed their explosive sequel The Expendables 2 to a $28.8 million debut, 17 percent lower than the $34.8 million bow of 2010′s original Expendables. The number one debut marks the first time pop culture icon Chuck Norris has ever topped the box office. There really is nothing he can’t do.

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Box office update: 'Expendables 2' blasts off with $10.5M Friday; 'Dark Knight Rises' passes $400M

Welcome back, boys.

Sylvester Stallone and his motley crew of The Expendables 2 co-stars handily blazed to the top of the box office on Friday, shooting up $10.5 million, which should yield a final weekend gross in the $27 million range.

While the grizzled action heroes will nab the number one spot on the chart this weekend, Expendables 2 is already proving weaker — despite more muscle — than its 2010 predecessor, which grossed $13.3 million on its opening day (21% higher than Expendables 2) on the way to a $34.3 million weekend.

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Box office preview: 'Expendables 2' gunning for top spot against 'Sparkle', 'Timothy Green', 'ParaNorman'

Two years ago, Sylvester Stallone assembled a leathery crew of aging musclebound action stars for The Expendables, and the $80 million in-your-face action film went on to be a hit, grossing $103.1 million domestically and an explosive $274.5 million worldwide.

For these actors, a sequel wasn’t just an enticing prospect, it was an inevitable one.

Thus, we now have The Expendables 2, which is facing off this weekend against three titles more geared toward families: Paranorman, Sparkle, and The Odd Life of Timothy Green. How will these four titles fare at the box office?

Read on for my weekend box office predictions:

1. The Expendables 2 – $38 million
All the guys are back for Expendables 2 — Jason Statham, Sylvester Stallone, Dolph Lundgren, Bruce Willis, and Ah-nold — but there are a few fresh faces, too. Namely, Chuck Norris, Jean-Claude Van Damme, and token “let’s bring in the young crowd” actor Liam Hemsworth.

The kitsch factor of seeing all these grizzled action stars in one place is still the franchise’s selling point, and according to BoxOffice.com’s Shawn Robbins, social media activity for the sequel has been substantially stronger than its predecessor, which opened with $34.8 million in August 2010. Adult men will make up the vast majority of the audience and likely drive Expendables 2, which is playing in 3,316 theaters, to about $38 million in its first frame. Lionsgate reportedly acquired the $90 million film from Nu Image for $35 million.

2. Sparkle – $18 million
Though Jordin Sparks is making her acting debut, it is Whitney Houston’s final onscreen performance that will lure in curious moviegoers to see ScreenGems’ 1960s musical family drama Sparkle this weekend. The film, which cost a slim $14 million to make, is getting a narrow release in 2,244 theaters — a common tactic for a movie targeting a predominantly African-American audience (Think Like A Man, another ScreenGems film, started on 2,052 theaters earlier this year) — which should yield a strong per-theater average.

Although tracking and studio expectations have the film earning about $14-15 million over the Friday-to-Sunday period, as Tyler Perry’s titles have proved, movies geared towards an African-American female audience have often been underestimated by industry watchers; Sparkle could be bigger than most expect. I’m going with a rather bullish (feel free to chide me if I’m wrong on Sunday!) $18 million.

3. The Bourne Legacy – $17 million
Last week’s chart topper is facing direct competition from The Expendables 2, plus a lukewarm “B” CinemaScore grade. It may tumble 55 percent to $17 million, which would lift its ten-day total to about $70 million.

4. ParaNorman – $15 million
Focus Features scored with 2009′s Coraline, the dark 3-D animation that quietly earned $75.3 million during its domestic run. The same filmmaking team came together for ParaNorman, another ghoulish take on typically sunny animated fare. ParaNorman won’t have the benefit of the 3-D craze, which really sparked in 2009, on its side the way Coraline did, but it will still earn some cash due to a big 3,429 theater count. Families are spread thin between Odd Life and Sparkle, but ParaNorman, which likely cost somewhere in the $60 million range (the reported budget of Coraline) may scare up $15 million.

5. The Odd Life of Timothy Green – $14 million
The Disney feature, which stars Jennifer Garner and Joel Edgerton and was made for just under $25 million, looked like it would become a typical August misfire a few weeks ago, but a hard marketing push has raised awareness for the whimsical tale considerable, and its prospects seem much rosier.

In its Wednesday debut, the film earned $2.3 million, the same number that Hope Springs started with on Wednesday last week before pulling $14.6 million over the weekend. Hope Springs carried a much older audience that waited until the weekend to hit the theater, which resulted in the big boost, but Odd Life may be a bit smaller. Still, thanks to strong word-of-mouth from its “A-” CinemaScore grade, Timothy Green, playing in 2,598 theaters, may blossom to $14 million.

Check EW all weekend long to see how The Expendables 2, Sparkle, ParaNorman, and The Odd Life of Timothy Green fare, and if you want up-to-the-minute box office updates, follow me on Twitter.

New 'Sparkle' trailer features Cee Lo Green, Whitney Houston

A new trailer for Sparkle, in theaters Aug. 17, showcases a dapper Cee Lo Green singing “I’m a Man” while sporting an uncharacteristic full head of hair. While the clip focuses mainly on Green and leading lady Jordin Sparks, the most poignant moments come toward the end, when we get glimpses of Whitney Houston in her final movie role. Houston died just three months after production on Sparkle wrapped.

The movie is a remake of the 1976 musical drama of the same name. Houston plays the mother of the aspiring superstar title character (Sparks). Check out the new trailer below:

Read more:
Whitney Houston’s ‘Sparkle’: Trailer debuts on ‘Today’
Whitney Houston duets with Jordin Sparks for ‘Sparkle’ track: Hear it here
‘VH1 Divas’ will tribute Whitney Houston: Who should participate?

'Sparkle': Video for Whitney Houston-Jordin Sparks duet 'Celebrate' debuts -- WATCH

The slow rollout of Sparkle-related bits continues: Today, the Internet was treated to the “music video” for the Jordin Sparks-Whitney Houston duet, “Celebrate.”

“Music video” comes to you in quotes because, well, it’s difficult to produce a real music video for a song where half of the duo is no longer with us. And, truly, you can feel the void of Whitney Houston throughout the video, which you can watch below. Of course, producers weren’t going to let the video be completely Whitney-less: They filled the clip with scenes from Sparkle that feature Houston, but the only person lip-syncing the song — during interstitials that, fitting for “Celebrate,” feature a party — is Ms. Jordin Sparks, along with her various costars.

Sparks does a lovely job throughout the video, dancing and singing with the other actor-singers from the movie. It feels triumphant, in a way, that they carried on without Houston. And, in a lovely nod at the very end of the clip, Sparks dons a vintage Whitney Houston T-shirt and says, “We love you, Whitney.” It’s all very sweet — and the song is toe-tapping fun. Watch the video here:

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'Sparkle' trailer: See Whitney Houston play 'a cautionary tale'

Today gave us a short peek at Sparkle — a musical remake that features Whitney Houston’s last onscreen performance — during yesterday’s show. Now the film’s full-length trailer has been released — and aside from the uncomfortable, on-the-nose moment when Houson’s character calls her own life “a cautionary tale,” the movie looks like just the thing to fill that Dreamgirls-sized hole in your heart. It’s just too bad that its title makes Glitter comparisons way too easy.

American Idol Jordin Sparks stars as a girl named Sparkle who forms a Motown group with her two sisters. Houston plays their mother, a past-her-prime singer who’s still got a pair of pipes. Try not to feel a lump in your throat, especially when Houston’s character seems to reflect her own real-life struggles. Watch the clip below. READ FULL STORY

Whitney Houston's 'Sparkle': Trailer debuts on 'Today'

The wait to catch a glimpse of Whitney Houston in Sparkle is finally over: The Today show premiered a preview clip that showcases Houston in the upcoming musical remake of the 1976 film, in which Houston plays the matriarch of a family of musicians who also battle addiction. Watch the video below:

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Jordin Sparks talks about working with Whitney Houston on 'Sparkle' and how she found out about the superstar's passing

When the knock came, Jordin Sparks was in her L.A. hotel room, getting ready to head over to the Beverly Hilton to meet up with Whitney Houston before Clive Davis’ annual pre-Grammy party. Sparks had recently spent a couple of months working closely with the superstar on a remake of the 1976 musical drama Sparkle — which Houston executive produced and co-stars in — and she was looking forward to saying hello. “I didn’t know her for very long,” says the 2007 American Idol winner, “but it was an intense two months: 12 hours every day spending time with somebody. It was amazing to walk into work and then Whitney is sitting in her chair blasting gospel music and singing. I’m thinking to myself, ‘People would give their right arm to just hear some of this. And it’s happening every day.’ She was really, really great.”

Sparks answered the door. READ FULL STORY

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