Acting newcomer Maia Healoha has been cast for the live-action remake of Disney’s 2002 animated feature, Lilo & Stitch!
Lilo & Stitch tells the tale of Lilo Pelekai, a lonely Hawaiian girl who is raised by her older sister Nani following their parents’ deaths. Lilo adopts and befriends an alien named Stitch, a genetic experiment designed to destroy everything he touches. Via the concept of ‘ohana (“family”), Lilo and Stitch develop a close bond and the latter reconsiders his purpose of creation.
The original film was based on an idea by Chris Sanders, who co-directed and co-wrote the production, along with providing the voice of Stitch. He conceptualized Stitch for a children’s book all the way back in 1985, but it was never fully realized when he had difficulty condensing the story. In 1997, then-executive vice president of Disney Feature Animation Thomas Schumacher approached Sanders for a new, original story to turn into an animated feature. He accepted, and it eventually resulted in a feature that was vastly different from others made for the time. (Contrary to popular belief, Lilo & Stitch was the first Disney film to tell a story about unconditional sisterly love, NOT Frozen.)
Alongside Sanders, Dean DeBlois co-directed and co-wrote Lilo & Stitch, having previously worked on Mulan before later reuniting with Sanders for DreamWorks’ How to Train Your Dragon. Clark Spencer produced Lilo & Stitch, doing the same for later works such as Zootopia, Ralph Breaks the Internet, and Encanto. The voice cast included Chris Sanders, Daveigh Chase, Tia Carrere, Ving Rhames, David Ogden Stiers, Kevin McDonald, Jason Scott Lee, Zoe Caldwell, and Kevin Michael Richardson.
Lilo & Stitch premiered on June 16, 2002, at the El Capitan Theatre, and released in the US on June 21, 2002. It earned $273.1 million against a budget of $80 million, meeting positive reviews for its humor and originality. The film’s success made it one of the few big hits in the 2000s decade and spawned a franchise with several television series, a direct-to-video sequel, and anime spin-offs.
Welina Hou, Lilo & Stitch!
In October 2018, Disney announced a live-action remake of Lilo & Stitch. Dan Lin and Jonathan Eirich, who previously produced Aladdin (2019), were confirmed to produce the film, with Mike Van Waes penning the script. Initially, Jon M. Chu (Step Up 2: The Streets, Crazy Rich Asians) was set to direct before Dean Fleischer Camp (Marcel the Shell with Shoes On) replaced him. In February 2023, Zach Galifianakis was confirmed to play Pleakley.
On March 31, 2023, Maia Kealoha was confirmed to play Lilo Pelekai in the remake. This will be her first major acting debut, having appeared in Little Miss Kona Coffee pageants via Instagram. Like her character, Kealoha is a native Hawaiian.
Production in Hawaii was expected to begin in February, but it had been pushed back because of the visual effects required for the extraterrestrial characters. Moana actress Auli’i Cravalho had also been approached to play Nani, but had to decline due to scheduling conflicts with her work on Mean Girls The Musical: The Movie. There is the possibility that Sanders will reprise the role of Stitch, as he had done for various spin-offs (sans anime). A casting call for Lilo’s rival and bully, Mertle Edmonds, is also underway.
Are you excited about the live-action reimagining of Lilo & Stitch? How do you think Maia Kealoha will perform her role? What will Stitch look like? Let us know in the comments and share your thoughts with us on social media!
Source: KnightEdge Media