Lilo & Stitch Fans Slam Disney for Whitewashing the Live-Action Film
Lilo & Stitch fans are taking to social media to slam Disney for the company's casting decisions.
Numerous users have taken to Twitter to criticize the casting of Sydney Agudong as Nani, Lilo's older sister. Some fans have taken issue with her participation given her lighter skin tone, with many calling the move "colorism," and accusing Disney of "whitewashing" the film. Agudong is of native Hawaiian and Filipino descent and grew up on the Hawaiian island of Kaua'i. Disney has yet to respond to the controversy.
Agudong was recently announced as the latest addition to the cast for the live-action remake, which was first announced in 2020. She will be joining the young Maia Kealoha, who will be making her debut on the big screen, as the titular protagonist Lilo. In February, it was revealed that Zach Galifianakis had been cast as the voice of Pleakley, the alien special agent who arrives on Earth alongside Dr. Jumba Jookiba to recapture Stitch. In addition, Chris Sanders, the co-writer-director of the original film, will be returning to voice Stitch, a part he played in the original.
In July 2022, it was announced that Dean Fleischer Camp, best known for writing and directing a number of animated and short films including the Oscar-nominated Marcel the Shell with Shoes On, would be helming the project as director. There is no word yet as to whether Kevin Michael Richardson will return as the voice of Captain Gantu. The other main voice actors -- David Ogden Stiers (Dr. Jumba) and Zoe Caldwell (who played the Grand Councilwoman) -- passed away in 2018 and 2020, respectively.
Lilo & Stitch was first released in 2002 to much critical acclaim and quickly developed a cult following among fans. It released a number of animated sequels and spin-offs, including a TV series, in the following years, but none matched the success or acclaim of the first. While Disney announced the development of a live-action adaptation in 2020, the development of the film did not kick off until around 2022.
The live-action Lilo & Stitch remake is set to debut on Disney+ on May 10, 2024.