Lilo & Stitch’s Director Opens Up About Sequels, The Planned Live-Action Movie, And His Thoughts On Making A Sequel Today

Lilo & Stitch with record player
(Image credit: Walt Disney Animation)

In the years since Lilo & Stitch was released, the movie has not only become a beloved Disney classic, it has also become a major franchise for the House of Mouse. There were three direct-to-video sequels, a Disney Channel series, a Japanese anime and a Chinese animated series. The character also has a significant presence in Disney Parks across the globe, and there are reportedly plans to adapt the original film to live action. As Lilo & Stitch celebrates 20 years since its release, co-writer/director Dean DeBlois shared his thoughts on the future of the blue alien who befriended a Hawaiian girl. 

When CinemaBlend exclusively spoke with Dean DeBlois about Lilo & Stitch, the Disney filmmaker reflected on why he and Chris Sanders were never inspired to return for a sequel themselves. DeBlois said this: 

I think we were just excited to do something new [after Lilo & Stitch] and I think Chris [Sanders] feels the same way I do, which is that I've never been a fan of sequels. When I was asked to come up with sequel ideas for How To Train Your Dragon, my initial response was reluctance. And then I said, well, if you're going to entertain the idea of a sequel, then I would pitch doing a trilogy so we could make it three acts of one story and give them purpose and make it part of a larger design. So, I think my goal is to never rush into a sequel unless I feel like there's real demand for it. And so I guess to answer your question, not really, like it hasn't really come up and I think that they're working on a live action version, which will be kind of interesting to see what happens with that. I know it’s a moneymaker for Disney and they are probably keen on exploring and exploiting it, but I think as far as the story we wanted to tell, we were pretty satisfied with how it concluded.

DeBlois and Sanders were not creatively involved in the subsequent Lilo & Stitch sequels and spinoffs, with new talent taking over the reins for more TV and on-demand-focused content around Lilo & Stitch. As DeBlois shared, they did not imagine a sequel for the movie and were interested in pursuing a new creative direction after wrapping up the heartwarming 2002 movie. 

Following Lilo & Stitch, Dean DeBlois and Chris Sanders worked together on How To Train Your Dragon for DreamWorks Animation, which did lead to a trilogy that DeBlois worked closely on from beginning to end. The result was the chance to tell the story of Hiccup and Toothless over the course of a decade and bring together a really touching ending. When speaking about the live-action Lilo & Stitch movie in the works at Disney, he said this: 

I don't wanna disparage the people who do [the live-action remake] and in some cases that's all that's getting made. So I understand to bring your best to it. I'm not sitting here on the sidelines snickering, thinking ‘Oh, that this is gonna be a disaster’. Of course I wish them well. I think in that case, it seems like it's less immediate because so many of the Disney revived projects, or at least sort of reimagined in live action have some kind of classic background. [Lilo & Stitch] is just sort of a quirky, weird, personal vision that doesn't lend itself to the same parameters, I guess.

DeBlois made the point that while live-action Disney movies have been popular, all of them so far have also been based on other famous fairy tales or stories from classic literature. However, Lilo & Stitch is an original concept and modern idea that sets it apart from other projects the House of Mouse has decided to remake.  

Last we heard back in 2020, Crazy Rich Asians and In The Heights director Jon M. Chu might direct the live-action Lilo & Stitch. However, Chu is getting ready to shoot two Wicked movies, and he's reportedly no longer involved in the Disney flick. If Disney does end up remaking Lilo & Stitch, Nani voice actress Tia Carrere did share her hopes for more diversity on the soundtrack. You can read more about Carrere’s reflection of the animated classic with CinemaBlend and stream the 2002 movie with a Disney+ subscription to celebrate the movie’s 20th anniversary.  

Sarah El-Mahmoud
Staff Writer

Sarah El-Mahmoud has been with CinemaBlend since 2018 after graduating from Cal State Fullerton with a degree in Journalism. In college, she was the Managing Editor of the award-winning college paper, The Daily Titan, where she specialized in writing/editing long-form features, profiles and arts & entertainment coverage, including her first run-in with movie reporting, with a phone interview with Guillermo del Toro for Best Picture winner, The Shape of Water. Now she's into covering YA television and movies, and plenty of horror. Word webslinger. All her writing should be read in Sarah Connor’s Terminator 2 voice over.