Lilo & Stitch is a 2002 American animated science fiction / family film produced by Walt Disney Feature Animation and released on June 21, 2002. The 42nd animated feature in the Walt Disney Animated Classics series, it was written and directed by Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois, and features the voices of Sanders, Daveigh Chase, Tia Carrere, David Ogden Stiers, Kevin McDonald, Ving Rhames, Jason Scott Lee, and Kevin Michael Richardson. Lilo & Stitch was the second of three Disney animated features produced primarily at the Florida animation studio studio located at Walt Disney World’s Disney-MGM Studios in Orlando, Florida. The Lilo and Stitch characters were nominated for the 2002 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature, which ultimately went to Hayao Miyazaki’s film, Spirited Away, which was also distributed by Walt Disney Pictures, and featured a voice-over performance by Chase in the English dub. Lilo & Stitch is one of the few Disney animated features to take place in the present day; others include One Hundred and One Dalmatians (1961), The Rescuers (1977) and its sequel The Rescuers Down Under (1990), and Oliver & Company (1988).
Production of the Lilo and Stitch characters began with then-Disney CEO Michael Eisner deciding that, in the wake of a number of high-profile and large-budget Disney animated features during the mid-1990s, the studio might try its hand at a smaller and less expensive film. The idea was inspired by the production of Dumbo, an economically-made 1941 Walt Disney film produced in the wake of the more expensive Pinocchio and Fantasia. Chris Sanders, a head storyboard artist at Disney Feature Animation, was approached to pitch an idea. Sanders had created the character of Stitch in 1985 for an unsuccessful children’s book pitch, and developed a treatment for an animated feature featuring the character. The movie was originally intended to take place in rural Kansas so that Stitch could interact with other characters while still being isolated from wreaking greater havoc. A decision to change the film’s setting to the Hawaiian island of Kauaʻi was an important choice in defining the plot more clearly. No other animated feature had ever taken place on any of the Hawaiian islands before.
A Unique Pair
In a deviation from several decades’ worth of Disney features, Sanders and DuBlois chose to use watercolor painted backgrounds for the Lilo and Stitch characters, as opposed to the traditional gouache technique. While watercolors had been used for the early Disney animated shorts, as well as the early Disney features Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1937) and Dumbo, the techique had been largely abandoned by the mid 1940s in favor of less complicated media such as gouache. Sanders preferred that watercolors be used for Lilo to evoke both the bright look of a storybook and the art direction of Dumbo, requiring the background artists to be trained in working with the medium. The the Lilo and Stitch characters designs were based around Sanders personal drawing style, eschewing the traditional Disney house style.
Some of this article uses modified material from the Wikipedia article on the Lilo and Stitch characters “Lilo_%26_Stitch“, which is released under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share-Alike License 3.0.