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The Lilo & Stitch Scene We Never Got To See

Summer 2022 saw the 20th anniversary of one of the best Disney movies ever made, "Lilo and Stitch." The story of a pair of troubled sisters who take in a strange-looking alien creature on the run was a much-needed savior for the studio at the time. Released during Disney's tumultuous post-Renaissance era throughout the '00s that saw the studio make a bumpy transition into 3D animated features, "Lilo and Stitch" proved to be one of the rare successes. Earning over $270 million worldwide (via Box Office Mojo) and garnering one of the studio's first Oscar nominations for best animated feature (via IMDb), the film would become a poster child for movie merchandising (via The Hollywood Reporter).

Seemingly in line with its quirky cast of characters, the production of "Lilo and Stitch" is considered an oddball compared to other animated features at the time. With a smaller budget and fewer resources at their disposal, the film had little interference from studio executives throughout its creation (via Polygon). Despite this, as with most animated films, changes would inevitably have to be made. One of these was an infamous scene plagued by terrible timing. 

A major real life event changed the final scene

Initially, the final chase scene in "Lilo and Stitch" saw Stitch, Nani, Jumba, and Pleakley hijack an airplane, specifically a 747 commercial airliner, from an airport to save Lilo from the clutches of Captain Gantu. The plane crashes and skids across various buildings as the clumsy alien crew navigates throughout the city. However, by the time the shocking terrorist attacks upon the Twin Towers on September 11, 2001 had occurred, the world of entertainment, much like the real world, was in for a significant change. Various films and shows, both old and new, needed to make accommodations if they evoked imagery that hit too close to the devastating event (via Vox).

"Lilo and Stitch" was no exception. Despite the film being nearly complete, it became imperative that the chase scene be altered. The plane was replaced by Jumba and Pleakley's spaceship. Even though the scene was changed to remove the problematic subject matter, it would still resemble the original sequence in its cinematography and staging choices. Even the design of the ship "has very 747-looking engines," says co-director Chris Sanders (via Polygon). While the deleted scene is a heavy reminder of the insensitivity of older media in showcasing plane hijackings and senseless destruction, it's thankfully something that the team behind this beloved animated film was quick to act on, helping the film remain a timeless gem.