For the last few years, Disney has fallen into a trend of remaking “live-action” versions of their classic animated films. In 2019 alone, Disney released new versions of Dumbo, Aladdin, The Lion King, and Lady and the Tramp. Adding to an already packed slate of upcoming live-action remakes, Disney has announced their director for a new adaptation of Lilo & Stitch.
Deadline is reporting that Jon M. Chu, director of Crazy Rich Asians and the upcoming In the Heights, will direct the new version of Lilo & Stitch. The project has been rumored for some time, with the film previously hinted at back in 2018. It is unclear if this new version of Lilo & Stitch will be released in theaters for Disney+, however, Disney’s new focus on its streaming service might hint at the latter.
Released in 2002, Lilo & Stitch was the story of Lilo, a Hawaiian girl raised by her sister, Nani, who befriends an alien she names “Stitch”. The alien – who previously was known as Experiment 626 – is a destructive creature who causes havoc on Lilo’s household. The film earned $273 million worldwide, making it one of Disney’s most successful animated films of the 2000s. Lilo & Stitch also received several direct-to-video sequels, video games, and a TV series, aptly titled, Lilo & Stitch: The Series.
Lilo & Stitch would be the most recent Disney animated film to receive a live-action remake, coming out four years after the previous holder of that title, 1998’s Mulan. Like most of these live-action remakes, one would imagine that Lilo & Stitch would have to be some combination of real actors and computer-animated characters. Otherwise, good luck trying to find a blue dog that looks like Stitch.
As of right now, Lilo & Stitch joins a long list of live-action remakes that Disney has in the works, so it’s unclear how long before we actually see this film. The only scheduled upcoming Disney live-action remake is Cruella, which will star Emma Stone as the infamous One Hundred and One Dalmatians villain, Cruella de Vil. The film is being directed by Craig Gillespie, who previously made the 2011 Fright Night and the Oscar-winning I, Tonya. Cruella is currently scheduled for a May 28, 2021 release.
Yet Jon M. Chu’s Lilo & Stitch joins a recent string of live-action remakes with some pretty impressive directors. Earlier this year, Disney announced that a Lion King sequel would be coming from Moonlight and If Beale Street Could Talk director Barry Jenkins. Also upcoming are Peter Pan & Wendy from Pete’s Dragon director David Lowery, Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs from (500) Days of Summer director Marc Webb, and Back to the Future’s Robert Zemeckis is making an update of Pinocchio. These are just some of the dozen or so live-action properties in the works currently from Disney.
It is unclear where Lilo & Stitch stands in importance compared to their other live-action remakes they have in development. The fact that this release has a high-profile director already assigned boasts well for possibly putting it at the head of the rest. But this also shows that Disney shows no sign of stopping remaking their own films any time soon.