For years, Walt Disney’s animated films mostly drew material from either famous fairy tales or adaptations of books (“101 Dalmatians”, “The Sword in the Stone” and “Oliver & Company” come to mind). Every now and then however, they would go with an original plot, like 1994’s “The Lion King” (though the story had elements of Shakespeare’s “Hamlet”) or “Lilo & Stitch” in 2002. The latter was a surprise heartwarming family adventure starring a Hawaiian girl and her alien pet, set mostly to music by Elvis Presley. It spawned DTV sequels, a TV series and spinoffs from Japan and China. Next stop: a live-action film version.
The Hollywood Reporter has discovered that a remake of “Lilo & Stitch” is now in the planning stages for Disney. It will be primarily live-action but with CGI to animate the extraterrestrial members of its cast of characters. Relatively fresh scriptwriter Mike Van Waes has been tapped by the studio to make the script, while Jonathan Eirich and Dan Lin of the Rideback label will serve as producers, after working on the live-action “Aladdin” remake, starring Mena Massoud, Naomi Scott and Will Smith, due to release in 2019. This new project is indicative of the duo’s rising star with Disney.
As a refresher, “Lilo & Stitch” tells the story of an alien lab experiment, strong and cunning but also driven to be chaotic. The alien flees custody and crash-lands on earth in Hawaii, where he is adopted from a dog pound by Lilo (Daveigh Chase) and named Stitch (Chris Sanders). Feeling grieved at having lost her parents with only her older sister Nani (Tia Carrere) caring for her, Lilo forms a bond with Stitch that helps her regain joy for life and him to learn compassion. With alien bounty hunters looking for Stitch, he and Lilo must stick together in the spirit of traditional Hawaiian value of “Ohana”, or family.
Stitch voice actor Chris Sanders had also co-directed the original animated film with Dean DeBlois. He would later move to Dreamworks Animation and score another franchise-starting hit with “How to Train Your Dragon”, released in 2010. “Lilo & Stitch” itself is considered a very positive moment at a time when the quality of Disney’s traditionally animated features was going through a time of upheaval. Ultimately, barring 2009’s “The Princess and the Frog”, Disney has since transitioned primarily to computer animation in their movies since 2005.
While “Lilo & Stitch” in live-action is still a ways off, Disney will be premiering three such remakes of past animation in 2019: “Dumbo” in March, “Aladdin” in May, and “The Lion King” in July.
Image courtesy of NBC News