Some 3,400 theater owners at last week’s ShoWest convention in Las Vegas got an advance peek at soon-to-be scream queen Brandy Norwood. The singer/TV actress (UPN’s “Moesha”) will make her big-screen debut alongside Jennifer Love Hewitt in the much-anticipated sequel “I Know What You Did Last Summer 2,” which is slated for release this November.
An animated Brandy told EW Online that she was excited about working with Hewitt and starring in her first feature. Hardly a showbiz novice, the 19-year-old platinum-selling singer has proven that she’s no slouch when it comes to attracting attention from viewers. Brandy scored a ratings coup for ABC last October with her television movie debut in “Rodgers & Hammerstein?s Cinderella.” The show, which featured a mixed-race cast that included Whitney Houston and Jason Alexander, wooed 34.3 million viewers and gave the network its best Sunday night numbers in more than 10 years.
Industry experts who attended ShoWest said that “Last Summer 2″‘s teen-friendly integrated cast, coupled with Brandy’s large fan base, could mean boffo box office for the film. “A sequel has a built-in audience,” says David Davis, VP at the investment banking firm Houlihan Lokey Howard & Zukin. “But it still needs a twist [to attract viewers].” In this case, the twist may be Brandy. Sequels typically gross only 50% to 70% of the original film’s take, but Davis expects the addition of Brandy to boost “Last Summer 2″‘s grosses above the original film’s $70 million.
“Multicultural casting is really working right now in teen angst/love/horror movies,” he explains. (“Scream 2,” which added Jada Smith, Elise Neal, Omar Epps and Duane Martin to its cast, has already nearly equalled the original film’s $103 million domestic gross.) “Horror films have a distinctly urban appeal,” Davis says, “and urban demographics are more multicultural.”