“Lilo & Stitch” was a pioneer Disney movie when it came to centering a love story between sisters over romance. Yes, before “Frozen.”
The 2002 film celebrates its 20th anniversary this year and in conversation with The New York Times, co-director Chris Sanders was candid about his frustration with the seemingly misplaced acclaim “Frozen” had as a Disney first.
“To be clear, I think ‘Frozen’s’ great,” Sanders told the outlet. “But it was a little bit frustrating for me because people were like, ‘Finally, a non-romantic relationship with these two girls,’ and I thought, ‘We did that! That has absolutely been done before.’”
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While “Frozen” does have romance, the central storyline is about the relationship between sisters Elsa and Anna — something many movie critics zeroed in on after its 2013 debut.
“Lilo & Stitch” largely focused on Lilo’s growing friendship with alien Stitch, but it also showed the hardships of Lilo’s older sister Nani who had to raise her after their parents died. Lilo is going through growing pains as Nani is simultaneously entering womanhood at 19.
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“Lilo & Stitch” producer Clark Spencer told the Times that fans of the movie could relate to these characters and storylines.
“When the film came out, that’s what a lot of critics talked about,” he told the NYT. “Those moments that were based in reality in a way that people could see themselves in, and it didn’t feel like they were cartoon characters.”
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“Lilo & Stich” peaked at $273.1 million at the box office worldwide and “Frozen” was one of Disney’s highest-grossing films at $1.28 billion, per Box Office Mojo.
In addition to “Frozen,” Hawaii-based “Lilo & Stitch” paved way for the independent, Pacific Islander Disney princess “Moana.”
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“Lilo & Stitch” may have even bigger future success as Disney made plans in 2018 to do a live-action remake, USA TODAY learned at the time from a source who was familiar with the project but not authorized to speak publicly about it. The status of the film was in early development in 2018, the source shared. As of 2022, it is unclear when it will hit screens.
Contributing: Hannah Yasharoff