Lilo and Stitch live-action remake: Everything we know so far

(L to R) Stitch, Lilo and Nani surfing in Lilo and Stitch
(Image credit: Disney, Maximum Film / Alamy Stock Photo)

Disney's Lilo & Stitch is the latest animated classic to get the splashy new live-action treatment. It joins the ranks of other heavy hitters from the Disney vault like Beauty and the Beast and The Lion King. 

The live-action remake for Lilo and Stitch is currently in production, having been first announced back in 2018, and it will debut on Disney Plus. The original 2002 animated film set in Hawaii follows an outcast young girl named Lilo (voiced by Daveigh Chase) who befriends Stitch (voiced by Chris Sanders), a mischievous blue dog-like alien, after he crash-lands in her backyard. 

Disney's been pretty tight-lipped over what audiences can expect. In recent years, the Mouse has been churning out live-action adaptations of its animated library, but none have reached the same critical acclaim as their 2D counterparts. And it's undeniable that some are more watchable than others (here are our picks for the best and worst live-action Disney remakes). 

While we wait to hear more, we’ve gone and done a bit of digging around to bring you what we know about the adaptation so far, though be sure to take it with a grain of salt until Disney releases more information. So come with us on a journey to learn more about the Lilo and Stitch live-action remake.  

Lilo and Stitch live-action remake release date speculation

The Lilo and Stitch remake is slated for a 2024 release, but Disney hasn't announced an exact date yet. It will debut on Disney's streaming service, Disney Plus, where you can find titles pulled from over a century of making cinema. In the meantime, check out the best Disney Plus movies to watch now.

Filming for the live-action Lilo and Stitch began in April on the Hawaiian island of O'ahu, according to a rumor from Knight Edge Media. Production is expected to last around eight weeks. The 2002 animated film centered around the fictional Kokaua Town located on Kauaʻi, O'ahu's neighboring island to the northwest. 

Lilo and Stitch live-action remake casting and production

Sydney Elizebeth Agudong arrives for Viacom's Brandon TV Christmas Gala And Studio Launch held on December 20, 2019

Sydney Elizabeth Agudong (Image credit: Albert L. Ortega / Getty Images)

Newcomer Maia Kealoha has been tapped for the titular role of Lilo, while Sydney Elizabeth Agudong is playing her older sister, Nani, according to The Hollywood Reporter. Agudong previously starred in the independent feature At Your Feet and has worked on NCIS, On My Block and other TV shows. 

Nani's casting sparked significant backlash on social media when the leak first broke in April. Fans criticized Disney of colorism because the original animated design for Nani has much darker skin than Agudong. The actor's Hawaiian ancestry has also come under scrutiny.

Odds are Magnussen and Galifianakis will be playing two of the alien characters.

The same outlet recently tipped newcomer Kahiau Machado will play Nani's love interest, David Kawena. Billy Magnussen (Into the Woods, Birth of the Dragon) and Zach Galifianakis (The Hangover, Between Two Ferns) have purportedly joined the cast as well, though Disney is keeping their specific roles under wraps for now.  

Given that a majority of the human characters in Lilo and Stitch are Asian American Pacific Islanders, odds are Magnussen and Galifianakis will be playing two of the alien characters. If we had to guess, they'll probably provide voices for either Lilo's dog-turned-best-friend Stitch or the self-proclaimed evil genius who created him, Jumba Jookiba. Magnussen previously showed off his comedy chops in the live-action Aladin as Prince Anders, a friendly but dimwitted suitor of Princess Jasmine.

(L to R) Jumba Jookiba and Pleakley in Lilo and Stitch

(Image credit: Disney, Maximum Film / Alamy Stock Photo)

Rumor has it one fan-favorite character won't be making an appearance: Cobra Bubbles, a former CIA operative turned Child Protective Services agent and a major thorn in Nani's side throughout the movie. Instead, he's getting a gender-swapped equivalent named Mrs. Kekoa played by Jolene Purdy (WandaVision, Orange is the New Black), according to Knights Edge Media

Dean Fleischer Camp, the filmmaker behind indie darling and best-animated feature Oscar nominee Marcel the Shell With Shoes On, is directing the live-action remake. Meanwhile, the script marks the writing debut of Chris Kekaniokelani Bright.

Rideback's Jonathan Eirich and Dan Lin will produce, with the company's Ryan Halprin as executive producer. The studio previously handled production on the live-action Aladin as well as the Lego Movie franchise and Sherlock Holmes films starring Robert Downey Jr. 

Lilo and Stitch remake story

While no plot details about the Lilo and Stitch remake have been revealed, it's likely audiences can expect it to match the original given the trend of past live-action Disney movies. 

The Hawaii-centric story kicks off after Stitch, an alien genetically engineered to be a force of destruction, escapes police capture and crash lands on Earth. Lilo befriends him to the chagrin of her sister, Nani, who's stretched thin trying to keep their family together in the wake of their parents' death. With social services breathing down their necks and pursuing aliens banging on the door, they bond over a shared sense of family and win the day.

That being said, the original Lilo and Stitch spawned three movie sequels and a two-season television spin-off. These centered around Lilo and Stitch's trials and tribulations rounding up Jumba's other genetic experiments after they get loose and run amuck. So it's not out of the question that the live-action adaptation could incorporate story elements or references to these spin-offs. 

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Alyse Stanley
News Editor

Alyse Stanley is a news editor at Tom’s Guide overseeing weekend coverage and writing about the latest in tech, gaming and entertainment. Prior to joining Tom’s Guide, Alyse worked as an editor for the Washington Post’s sunsetted video game section, Launcher. She previously led Gizmodo’s weekend news desk, where she covered breaking tech news — everything from the latest spec rumors and gadget launches to social media policy and cybersecurity threats.  She has also written game reviews and features as a freelance reporter for outlets like Polygon, Unwinnable, and Rock, Paper, Shotgun. She’s a big fan of horror movies, cartoons, and miniature painting.