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Photo: ‘Lilo And Stitch’

Over the past few years, for better or worse, one business strategy that Disney has taken to increase box office revenue is to update many of their animated classics into live-action films.  Some have yielded great results in terms of quality, others not so much.  2010’s ‘Alice in Wonderland’ was the first of these live-action retellings and while the film crossed the billion-dollar mark, it did not live up to the standards of the original and was not well received by many fans or critics.  Since then, Disney’s live-action retellings have either been hits, misses, or a mix of both.  

It now looks like Disney has its next live-action venture lined up.  2002’s ‘Lilo and Stitch’, one of the most popular and beloved animated films of the 2000s, is getting a live-action adaptation of its own set for release on Disney Plus.  The film has no official release date set; however, there are some details available about the upcoming project.  

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An Adaptation With A Potentially Special Story

‘Lilo and Stitch’ follows the story of a young Hawaiian girl who befriends an alien created and experimented on in a lab from outer space and is avoiding recapture from his creator.  The friendship between these two characters is what makes the film so unique.  Lilo is a girl who has difficulty socializing and fitting in with other kids her age.  Many who are part of the generation that grew up watching this film have since interpreted Lilo as a character with a disability or disorder that inhibits her ability to form meaningful friendships.  This resonated deeply not only with those who do have a social or personality disorder, but anyone in general who had difficulty growing up or making friends.  Stitch, on the other hand, has a very similar upbringing.  Created in a lab, his creator was ordered to exterminate him as every being on his planet deemed Stitch an abomination. This ultimately established the bond between these two characters and created a friendship that audiences can empathize with.  Other aspects of Lilo’s life, such as her only adult figure being her older sister Nani, who struggles to raise Lilo on her own to the dismay of a stern social worker, and her love of Elvis music make her a likable and realistic character that audiences can easily relate to.  

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In other words, ‘Lilo and Stitch’ has certain elements that many classic Disney animated films lack.  There is a sense of realism and a feeling of familiarity that resonates on a deeply personal level with many people, especially those who grew up watching this movie.  This is what the upcoming live-action adaptation will have to recapture if it wants to win over audiences. Not to mention how the film must seamlessly transition between CGI aliens from outer space and a quaint little town on an island in Hawaii. Therefore, ‘Lilo and Stitch’ may be the most difficult animated property for Disney to admit.   

‘Marcel The Shell with Shoes On’ Director To Helm Project

Dean Fleischer-Camp, director of A24’s ‘Marcel the Shell with Shoes On’, is set to direct the upcoming reboot.  Camp has clearly shown that he can tell a good story within the realm of family films.  His work on ‘Marcel the Shell with Shoes On’ is a testament to that.  The film is primarily animation and features an animated protagonist, but does incorporate many live-action elements.  Not only that, but the character of Marcel has much of the same down-to-earth charm as ‘Lilo and Stitch’.  Disney made arguably the best possible choice in finding a director for the reboot.  

In negotiations to pen the script is Chris Kekaniokalani Bright.  Bright does not have many big writing projects under his belt yet, but his Hawaiian background can only add to the film.  An early draft for the script was developed a few years back, but has since been on hold.  

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 ‘Lilo And Stitch’ – What To Expect

The question anyone would ask when a favorite story is being adapted or rebooted is, “Will it be any good?”  We can only know once the film comes out.  There are reasons to get excited, those being the director and writer attached as well as the fact that ‘Lilo and Stitch’ is returning to the spotlight.  But there are reasons for pessimism, the biggest being Disney’s mixed history with its live-action adaptations.  

Some have been decent retellings that lived up to or exceeded the standards of the original.  In this category would be ‘Cinderella’, ‘The Jungle Book’, ‘Beauty and The Beast’ and ‘Lady and the Tramp’.  Others have been nothing more than lackluster cash grabs that were little more than shot-by-shot line-for-line remakes that, for one reason or another, missed the mark.  This category is made up of the likes of ‘Alice in Wonderland’, ‘Maleficent’, ‘Dumbo’, ‘Aladdin’, ‘The Lion King’, and ‘Mulan’.  Disney also currently has retellings of ‘Peter Pan’, ‘Snow White and The Seven Dwarves’, ‘The Little Mermaid’, and ‘Pinnochio’ in the works.  Which category will these films end up in?  In which category will ‘Lilo and Stitch’ land a spot?  In terms of a release date, the film is still in the earliest stages of pre-production, so an official date may not be known for some time.  The original ‘Lilo and Stitch’ officially turned twenty years old this past June and still holds the charm, warmth, and depth it had back in 2002.  The film has since spawned multiple direct-to-DVD sequels as well as a TV series on Disney Channel, all of which are currently streaming on Disney Plus, along with the original film itself.  The idea of a live-action ‘Lilo and Stitch’ reboot will certainly be a subject of conversation among Gen Z’ers as we approach the film’s release. 

By Nader Chamas 

Click here to read The Hollywood Insider’s CEO Pritan Ambroase’s love letter to Cinema, TV and Media. An excerpt from the love letter: The Hollywood Insider’s CEO/editor-in-chief Pritan Ambroase affirms, We have the space and time for all your stories, no matter who/what/where you are. Media/Cinema/TV have a responsibility to better the world and The Hollywood Insider will continue to do so. Talent, diversity and authenticity matter in Cinema/TV, media and storytelling. In fact, I reckon that we should announce “talent-diversity-authenticity-storytelling-Cinema-Oscars-Academy-Awards” as synonyms of each other. We show respect to talent and stories regardless of their skin color, race, gender, sexuality, religion, nationality, etc., thus allowing authenticity into this system just by something as simple as accepting and showing respect to the human species’ factual diversity. We become greater just by respecting and appreciating talent in all its shapes, sizes, and forms. Award winners, which includes nominees, must be chosen on the greatness of their talent ALONE.

I am sure I am speaking for a multitude of Cinema lovers all over the world when I speak of the following sentiments that this medium of art has blessed me with. Cinema taught me about our world, at times in English and at times through the beautiful one-inch bar of subtitles. I learned from the stories in the global movies that we are all alike across all borders. Remember that one of the best symbols of many great civilizations and their prosperity has been the art they have left behind. This art can be in the form of paintings, sculptures, architecture, writings, inventions, etc. For our modern society, Cinema happens to be one of them. Cinema is more than just a form of entertainment, it is an integral part of society. I love the world uniting, be it for Cinema, TV, media, art, fashion, sport, etc. Please keep this going full speed.

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