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After a string of hits that established a certain expected style that included fairy tale inspirations, willowy (and often white) princesses as protagonists, and soaring musical numbers, Walt Disney Pictures took a risk on something wildly different with the sci-fi comedy Lilo & Stitch. Set in contemporary Hawaii, the animated adventure had a look inspired by its creator Chris Sanders' unique drawing style and followed a story of good-hearted but fiery Hawaiian girl who meets her match when she encounters an alien created for destruction.
It's been 10 years since Lilo & Stitch hit theaters thrilling critics and audiences, but the splendid cartoon is getting renewed attention in the wake of the uncovering of the deleted scene below, which shows Lilo dealing with some aggravating tourists with a pretty inspired prank. Check out below thanks to /Film's tip:
There are elements of Hawaii's tourism throughout the film, from Nani and David's job at a "fake luau" restaurant, to Lilo's hobby of photographing bloated sunburned tourists, but this is by far the most critical of the vacationers who bark at Lilo and seem to reduce her to part of the exotic backdrop of their vacation. It's speculated that the scene was cut because its racial subtext might offend white moviegoers. While this is possible, it's worth noting that Lilo & Stich went through quite a few major changes during its production.
With an advertising campaign that boasted the film's break from Disney tradition—with Stitch intruding on other Disney classics and causing havoc—the studio seemed eager to try something new. But while Disney gave writer-director Chris Sanders a lot of freedom with the film, the developing feature was subjected to multiple test screenings that urged several alterations, including more sharply defining Nani as Lilo's sister (many thought she was her single mom), and changing the relationship between Jumba and Stitch from intergalactic gang members to mad scientist and Frankenstein's monster respectively. Then, in the wake of 9/11, a final action sequence that would show Stitch barreling through Honolulu in a Boeing 747 to rescue Lilo —devastating tall buildings along the way—was scrapped and reimagined without the destruction of a major city.
Considering the final moment of the above scene is Cobra Bubbles glaring at the pair, my guess is that this was an early version of the beat following his charging Lilo with making Stitch a "model citizen." In the final cut, some of these shots—from the screaming, fleeing tourists to Bubbles on the beach looking grim—are incorporated into the montage sequence where Nani searches for a new job, while Lilo tries to teach Stitch about Elvis as a role model with only disastrous (though hilarious) results. So basically, it probably didn't help that the sequence above was critical of presumably Caucasian tourists, but it's chopping probably came down to story over anything else.