Get ready to strap in for another Hawaiian rollercoaster ride! Lilo & Stitch is the latest Disney animated film set to be reimagined as a live-action feature film. The beloved tale of an oddball young girl’s close encounter with an intergalactic fugitive is the most contemporary Disney title to join the studio’s highly-successful strategy to revisit their nostalgic big hits. The new Lilo & Stitch project has hired newcomer Mike Van Waes to write the script, with Dan Lin and Jonathan Eirich, the producers behind the upcoming Aladdin live-action remake and LEGO Movie co-producer Ryan Halprin also attached.
The exciting announcement comes just 16 years after the release of the animated film, during an otherwise bleak era for the studio. After a string of smash musical hits in the ’90s, forgettable releases such as Dinosaur, Brother Bear and Home on the Range got Disney off to a rough start at the turn of the century. While Lilo & Stitch wasn’t a box office success by any means, taking home $145 million domestically at the box office, over the years it has gained traction and become one of the studios most underrated and adored properties. Following the release of Lilo & Stitch in 2002, the characters returned for two direct-to-video sequels and had a Disney Channel television series for two seasons.
According to The Hollywood Reporter, it’s unclear whether the live-action Lilo & Stitch will be hitting theaters or as an addition to Disney’s streaming service launching in 2019. The studio has previously announced that some of the long list of its live-action remakes are exclusively being produced for the upcoming streaming platform, including Lady & the Tramp and Sword in the Stone. Scriptwriter Mike Van Waes is relatively new to the industry, currently attached to pen two horror projects, The Conjuring 2 spin-off The Crooked Man and the Wizard of Oz-themed film Not in Kansas. The live-action remake could go in a variety of directions tonally and the question as to how close it will draw from the original animated film is unknown.
The uniqueness and admiration for Lilo & Stitch was found within the quick-witted comedy story of two misfit characters, a lonely girl and a destructive alien, who find “Ohana” with each other and through their bond. The film was an outlier for studio at the time, as it featured an original story of two Hawaiian women in a modern day setting, and dealt with a young woman raising her little sister and attempting to gain the approval of social workers in order to keep her within her care.
Since the live-action Lilo & Stitch is in the early stage of development, a release date has not yet been announced. The film will follow a string of other nostalgic Disney live-action reimagining’s of their animated films, with Dumbo, Aladdin and The Lion King all set to drop in 2019.