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Lilo & Stitch is a American film produced by Walt Disney Pictures and released on June 21, 2002. The forty-second animated feature in the Walt Disney Animated Classics, it was written and directed by Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois, and features the voices of Sanders, Daveigh Chase, Tia Carrere, David Ogden Stiers, Kevin McDonald, Ving Rhames, and Jason Scott Lee. Lilo & Stitch was the second of three Disney animated features produced primarily at the Walt Disney Feature Animation Florida studio located at Walt Disney Worldmarker's Disney-MGM Studiosmarker in Orlando, Floridamarker. Lilo & Stitch was nominated for the 2002 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, which ultimately went to Hayao Miyazaki's film, Spirited Away, which was also distributed by Walt Disney Pictures and featured the voices of Daveigh Chase and David Ogden Stiers in its English-language version.

A direct-to-video sequel, Stitch! The Movie, was released on August 26, 2003. This was followed by a television series, Lilo & Stitch: The Series, which ran from September 20, 2003 to July 29, 2006. A second direct-to-video sequel, Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch, was released on August 30, 2005. A third and final direct-to-video sequel, Leroy & Stitch, was released on June 27, 2006 as the conclusion to the TV series.


Dr. Jumba Jookiba is put on trial by the galactic governing body for illegal genetic experiments, including Experiment 626, an aggressive and cunning creature that is nearly indestructible. Jumba is imprisoned while 626 is set to be exiled on an asteroid. However, during transport on Captain Gantu's ship, 626 escapes to the planet Earth. The Grand Councilwoman orders Jumba to work with Agent Pleakley to recover 626 discreetly. 626 survives his escape attempt to Earth, landing in Hawaiimarker, but is knocked unconscious by a passing truck, and is taken to an animal shelter because he is believed to be a breed of dog.

After the recent death of their parents in a car accident, 19-year-old Nani Pelekai is looking after her younger, more rambunctious sister Lilo. They are visited by Cobra Bubbles, a social worker, who is concerned that Nani cannot take care of Lilo appropriately. The social worker is considering taking Lilo into foster care, however Nani is very much against this idea, as Lilo and she are the only remaining members of her family. After hearing Lilo in her room pray to be given a friend (Lilo has no 'real' friends because every girl in her class bullies her), Nani agrees to allow Lilo to adopt a dog. At the shelter Lilo immediately takes a keen interest in 626, despite serious misgivings that Nani and the shelter worker have about this strange "dog". Lilo names 626 "Stitch", and shows him around the island; Stitch quickly discovers escape is impossible as he cannot function in water.

As Nani goes around attempting to find a job, she is forced to bring Lilo and Stitch with her. Lilo uses the time to try to curb Stitch's aggressiveness by making him behave like Elvis Presley. Stitch's antics, although at times they foil Jumba and Pleakley's attempts to capture him, also ruin Nani's chances of getting a job. David, Nani's "boyfriend", sees Nani at the beach, where she had been trying to get a job as a lifeguard. David suggests they go surfing, because they were having a bad day. While Nani, Lilo and Stitch ride on a huge wave, Jumba makes one more effort to capture Stitch from underwater; as a result, it appears as if Stitch attempted to drown Lilo. Although everyone gets safely to shore, Cobra the social worker saw the whole event and tells Nani he will come by in the morning to take Lilo away from her. After Stitch sees how much trouble he has caused, and how Lilo and Nani "had a chance till Stitch came along", he leaves, with Lilo saying "I'll remember you though, I remember everyone who leaves".

The next morning, as Nani waits for Cobra to arrive, David tells Nani of a job offer that she must respond to. Nani tells Lilo to stay at home while she goes to secure the job. Stitch, hiding in the nearby woods, encounters Jumba, who reveals that Stitch can never have a family or "belong" because he's Experiment 626, just built to destroy, and that Jumba was going to "take him apart". Stitch races to Lilo's house, followed by Jumba firing at Stitch with his gun. The two fight, Lilo quickly calling on Cobra for help. The house is ultimately destroyed by the end of the fight, just at the moment that both Nani and Cobra return.

As Nani and Cobra argue over Lilo's well-being, Lilo slips away to hide in the forest and finds Stitch, who reveals his true alien form to her. While she says how he ruined "everything", they are both captured by Captain Gantu, and he makes to leave Earth. Nani is shocked to see Gantu putting Lilo and Stitch in a container pod and taking off in the ship. Stitch however escapes from the container before the ship takes off. Nani then realises Stitch isn't what she thought he was, and demands for him to talk, just as Lilo always said he did. While once again trying to capture Stitch, both Jumba and Pleakley are revealed to Nani, and tell her that they do know Lilo, and they can both get her back. Stitch, with help from Jumba's ship and by launching a gas tanker truck out of a volcano, is able to free Lilo and stop Gantu. After they land, they find that the Grand Councilwoman has arrived nearby, in order to arrest Stitch personally. However, when she sees Stitch hugging Nani and Lilo, she realizes he has become a civilized creature. Using Lilo's certificate of Stitch's ownership as proof, the Councilwoman asserts that Stitch is now a part of Nani and Lilo's family, and lets him live his exile on Earth. As her guards take Gantu away, she doesn't let Pleakley or Jumba return on her ship, and orders Cobra, a former CIA agent who previously met the Councilwoman at Roswellmarker, to keep an eye on the new family. Stitch, Jumba and Pleakley become integrated into Lilo's family, and the house is rebuilt with the help of the three.



Lilo & Stitch is one of the few Disney animated features to take place in the present day, with others including One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961), The Rescuers (1977) and its sequel The Rescuers Down Under (1990), and Oliver & Company (1988).
*A 1985 concept sketch of Stitch by creator Chris Sanders.
Production of Lilo & Stitch began with then-Disney CEO Michael Eisner deciding that, in the wake of a number of high-profile and large budget Disney animated features during the mid-1990s, the studio might try its hand at a smaller and less expensive film. The idea was inspired by the production of Dumbo, an economically-made 1941 Walt Disney film produced in the wake of the more expensive Pinocchio and Fantasia. Chris Sanders, a head storyboard artist at Disney Feature Animation, was approached to pitch an idea. Sanders had created the character of Stitch in 1985 for an unsuccessful pitch to write a children's book, and developed a treatment for an animated feature featuring the character. The movie was originally intended to take place in rural Kansasmarker so that Stitch could interact with other characters while still being isolated from wreaking greater havoc. A decision to change the film's setting to the Hawaiianmarker island of Kaua imarker was an important choice in defining the plot more clearly. No other animated feature had ever taken place on any of the Hawaiian islands before. In Sanders' words:

"Animation has been set so much in ancient, medieval Europe—so many fairy tales find their roots there, that to place it in Hawai i was kind of a big leap. But that choice went to color the entire movie, and rewrite the story for us."

Dean DeBlois, who had worked with Sanders to co-write Mulan (1998), was brought on to co-write and co-direct Lilo & Stitch, while Disney executive Clark Spencer was assigned to produce. Unlike several previous and concurrent Disney Feature Animation productions, the Lilo & Stitch pre-production team remained relatively small and isolated from upper management until the film went into full production. The character and set designs were based upon Chris Sanders' personal artistic style.

While the animation team visited Kaua i to research the locale, their tour guide explained the meaning of ohana as it applies to extended families. This concept of ohana became an important part of the movie. DeBlois recalls:

"No matter where we went, our tour guide seemed to know somebody. He was really the one who explained to us the Hawaiian concept of ohana, a sense of family that extends far beyond your immediate relatives. That idea so influenced the story that it became the foundation theme, the thing that causes Stitch to evolve despite what he was created to do, which is destroy."

The island of Kaua i had previously been featured in such films as Raiders of the Lost Ark and the Jurassic Park trilogy. The Disney animators faced the daunting task of meshing the film's plot, which showed the impoverished and dysfunctional life that many Hawaiians and other Westerners lived during the recent economic downturn, with the island's serene beauty. The actors voicing the film's young adults Nani and David, Tia Carrere, a native of Honolulumarker, and Jason Scott Lee, who was raised in hawaii, assisted with rewriting the Hawaiian characters' dialogue in the proper colloquial dialect and adding Hawaiian slang.

In a deviation from several decades' worth of Disney features, Sanders and DuBlois chose to use watercolor-painted backgrounds for Lilo & Stitch, as opposed to the traditional gouache technique. While watercolors had been used for the early Disney animated shorts, as well as the early Disney features Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) and Dumbo, the techique had been largely abandoned by the mid 1940s in favor of less complicated media such as guache. Sanders, however, preferred that watercolros be used for Lilo to evoke both the bright look of a storybook and the art direction of Dumbo, requiring the background artists to be trained in working with the medium. The character designs were based around Sanders' personal drawing style, eschewing the traditional Disney house style. The film's extraterrestrial elements, such as the spaceships, were designed to resemble marine life, such as whales and crabs.

Deleted scenes

Several major elements of the film changed during production. Originally, Stitch was the leader of an intergalactic gang, and Jumba was one of his former cronies sent after Stitch by the Intergalactic Council to capture him. Test audience response to early versions of the film resulted in the change of Stitch and Jumbo's relationship to that of creation and creator, respectively.

The biggest change came to the film's third act, which had Stitch flying a Boeing 747 jet through downtown Honolulumarker to save Lilo. Following the September 11, 2001 attacks on the World Trade Centermarker, this sequence was revised so that Stitch instead flew a spaceship through the mountains of Kaua i. This revision was done primarily by replacing the CGI model of the 747 with that of Jumba's spaceship, with only a few shots in the sequence fully re-animated.Another scene that was deleted was one of Lilo's attempts to make Stitch into a model citizen by warning tourists on the beach about the tsunami warning sirens. Finally, the original version of Jumba attacking Stitch in Lilo's home was found to be too violent by test audiences, and was revised to make it more comedic.


Teaser trailers for this film parody trailers for other Disney films (two of these were animated by Sanders) from recent years. These are called "Inter-Stitch-als" and are featured on Disney's official site. The original actors were brought back to reprise their roles and were shocked when asked to act negatively towards Stitch. The trailers also include the AC/DC song track Back In Black.

  • Beauty and the Beast: The Beauty and the Beast ballroom dance sequence begins as normal. However as the camera pans to the angels on the ceiling, Stitch is seen crawling across the painting. Watching Belle and the Beast, he crawls onto the chandelier, which breaks. The Beast dives and pulls Belle with him out of harm's way while the chandelier smashes on the ballroom floor behind them. The moment ruined, Belle announces she will be in her room. As she departs Stitch wolf whistles after her, to which she replies indiginantly, "Get your own movie!"
  • The Little Mermaid: Ariel is singing the reprise of "Part of Your World", when a huge wave, which is being ridden by Stitch, dumps on her. As the ocean settles, Ariel pops up and throws a starfish at Stitch, saying "I was singing here!" This trailer was the most difficult to parody, as the film had been painted using traditional cel animation rather than using the digital CAPS system and had to be cleaned up by hand.
  • Aladdin: Aladdin and Jasmine are interrupted in the middle of the "A Whole New World" sequence by the protagonist, Stitch. Stitch flirts with Jasmine and she drives off with him in his cruiser, leaving Aladdin sitting alone on the carpet, yelling at Stitch to "get [his] own movie".
  • The Lion King: There are two versions of this commercial. In one of them, clips of past Disney classics are shown, with a voice over saying "For over seventy years, the Walt Disney studios has won the hearts of audiences with the most enchanting, delightful and lovable characters the world had ever known. On June 21st, the tradition...", and is suddenly cut off as Rafiki thrusts Stitch into the air in the manner of the presentation ceremony in the original film. A warthog (Not Pumbaa) cries out "Hey, that's not Simba!". All the animals flee, leaving Stitch alone on Pride Rock. Stitch clears his throat and roars unconvincingly. In the other commercial, the end of the song "Circle of Life" plays, Rafiki raising Stitch into the air on the last note. The rest of the parody plays out as the previous one, except that in this commercial, Timon (sitting on Pumbaa's back) is the one who yells "Hey, that's not Simba!".

In the United Kingdom, Lilo & Stitch trailers and TV ads featured a cover of Elvis' song "Suspicious Minds", performed by Gareth Gates, who became famous on the UK TV program Pop Idol.


The film opening at #2 with $35,260,212 in its first weekend, less than $500,000 behind the film Minority Report. In its second week, fell to #3, again behind the Spielberg film at #2. The film profited $145,794,338 in the United States and Canada, and $127,349,813 internationally, finishing with $273,144,151 in the world.

Lilo & Stitch received very positive reviews from critics and movie-goers alike, and to date has been the only Walt Disney Feature Animation/Walt Disney Animation Studios production released during the 2000s to meet with critical approval and make its cost back during its original theatrical run. The film's success at the box office and on DVD led to a franchise, with four direct-to-video sequels and a television series spanning two seasons. The film has received 141 critical reviews on the site Rotten Tomatoes, 120 "Fresh" and 21 "Rotten", giving it a positive total rating of 85%.

Peter M. Nichols states that through the character of Nani and her struggles the film appeals to older children better than such attempts by the studio to do so as Treasure Planet, Atlantis: The Lost Empire and The Emperor's New Groove.

Home video and video game releases

The film was released on VHS and DVD December 3, 2002. In 2003, a 2-disc DVD version was announced alongside special edition DVDs of Alice in Wonderland and Pocahontas, which were released in 2004 and 2005 respectively. A 2-disc special edition DVD of Lilo & Stitch was released in the UK on August 22 2005, alongside the UK release of Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch, but a release in the US suffered from continuous delays.

On March 24, 2009, Disney finally released the special edition DVD, which they dubbed a 2-Disc "Big Wave Edition". This set includes most of the bonus features from the original DVD had and adds an audio commentary, a 2-hour making-of documentary, more deleted scenes including the original climax with the plane hijacking, a number of behind-the-scenes featurettes, and some games.

There were two official games released to coincide with the film, Disney's Lilo & Stitch for the Playstation and Disney's Stitch: Experiment 626 for the PlayStation 2. Stitch is also a summonable character in Kingdom Hearts II, and will appear along with his homeworld in the upcoming Kingdom Hearts Birth by Sleep.


The soundtrack of the film was released by Walt Disney Records on June 21, 2002. It, along with the film, features more Elvis Presley singles than any of Elvis' own feature films.


On August 26, 2003, Disney released a direct-to-video sequel, Stitch! The Movie, which seved as the pilot to a TV series titled Lilo & Stitch: The Series. This series ran for 65 episodes between September 20, 2003 and July 29, 2006. The series carried on where the film left off and charted Lilo's efforts to capture and re-home Jumba's remaining experiments. This series ended with TV movie Leroy & Stitch, which was released on June 27, 2006.

On August 2005, Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch, the "official" direct-to-video sequel to the film, was released. In this film, Stitch has a glitch because his molecules were never fully charged (this is contrary to an alternate opening, "Stitch's trial", which was seen on the DVD release of Lilo & Stitch). Lilo wants to win the May Day hula contest like her Mom did in the 1970s, but Stitch continues to have outbursts. Lilo thinks Stitch is not cooperating properly, until she finds out that Stitch is dying.

In March 2008, Disney announced a reimagined version of Lilo & Stitch, titled Stitch!, aimed at the Japanese market. The show, which began in October 2008, features a Japanese girl named Yuna (formerly referred to as Hanako) in place of Lilo, and is set on a fictional island in Okinawamarker prefecture instead of Hawaii. The series is produced by the Japanese animation house Madhouse LTD.

See also


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