‘We did that story first!’

Twenty years after the popular film “Lilo & Stitch” was released, co-director and writer Chris Sanders admitted he finds it “frustrating” that people consider Disney’s 2013 film “Frozen” the first movie about sisterhood — a premise he said “Lilo & Stitch” did first.

“To be clear, I think ‘Frozen’ is great,” Chris Sanders, who also voiced Stitch, told the New York Times in a conversation about the film.

“But it was a little bit frustrating for me because people were like, ‘Finally, a non-romantic relationship with these two girls,’ and I thought, ‘We did that! That has absolutely been done before,’” he said.

Both films tell stories of sisters overcoming problems and learning they are better together rather than apart, as opposed to many other animated films that centered around a romantic interest or savior.

“Lilo & Stitch” was released in 2002, telling the stories of sisters figuring out their new family roles following the death of their parents.
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection
The popular Disney film "Frozen" also tells a tale of sisterhood.
The popular 2013 Disney film “Frozen” also tells a tale of sisterhood.
Walt Disney Studios Motion Pictures / courtesy Everett Collection

“Lilo & Stitch,” which was released in 2002, tells the story of a young girl named Lilo — who is being raised by her sister, Nani, after their parents die — who finds an “alien dog” called Stitch and the sisters’ journey of them coming to terms with their grief together.

“Frozen” centers around the relationship between sisters Elsa and Anna, who drift apart after their parents die but reconcile and discover they’re stronger together.

“Frozen” producer Clark Spencer said at the time of its release the movie was praised for its “realistic” portrayal of sibling relationships.

“Those moments that were based in reality in a way that people could see themselves in, and it didn’t feel like they were cartoon characters,” Spencer told the Times.

Many also say that “Lilo & Stitch,” which was set in Hawaii, paved the way for the 2016 film “Moana,” whose fictional setting of Monunui was based on the Polynesian islands.