Hawaii-themed ‘Lilo’
is big hit nationwide

It's a close second in weekend
grosses and was seen by more
people than any film

By Leila Fujimori

Hawaii families flocking to theaters to see "Lilo & Stitch" helped the animated feature sell the most tickets nationwide during the weekend.

And most gave the ohana-themed film a thumbs up.

Logo "It's the first time our whole family has seen a movie together," said Kalihi resident Mark Takara, 38, who saw the movie at Signature's Dole Cannery Theaters with his wife, son, 7, and daughter, 15.

Based on studio estimates, the animated movie set on Kauai made a little less money than the No. 1 film, "Minority Report," but actually sold more tickets, a higher percentage of which were at cheaper children and adult matinee prices.

"Lilo and Stitch" earned $35.8 million in box-office sales across the country, according to estimates by its studio, Disney. Steven Spielberg's sci-fi thriller "Minority Report" starring Tom Cruise took in $36.9 million, its distributor, 20th Century Fox, estimated. But the figures are so close, industry insiders are waiting on the official tally today.

"Lilo & Stitch" is about a lonely Hawaiian girl on Kauai who, with a mischievous alien she adopts as a pet, rediscovers her sense of family and belonging.

Takara liked the movie's emphasis on how a family should stick together, while son Cody said his favorite part was "when Stitch was mooning the aliens."

Geri Oshita, 26, of Kaimuki said: "It was very cute, heartwarming. It's a cartoon, but I cried."

Kalihi resident Jun Calip, 24, brought his whole family to the movie, as well. "It was very good," he said. "I'm going to get the DVD."

Hawaii movie-goers interviewed yesterday afternoon at the Signature Dole Cannery Theaters also liked the way the cartoon depicted Hawaii.

"It's really nice how they showed Hawaii, how the community is supposed to be," said Calip's wife, Jennifer.

"It was a pretty good interpretation as far as Hawaii goes," said Makakilo resident Patrick Nielson, who saw the movie with his wife and four children, ages 6 to 14. "It didn't make us look too stupid. A lot of times they overexaggerate the pidgin."

Papakolea resident Sandy Nihi said, "They even got the animated hula better than when they try to do it with regular people."

Irene Alcain, 37, of Ewa, who brought her two daughters, didn't like Lilo's sister kicking a car that nearly ran her over and saying "stupid head."

Evelyn Sakamoto of Kaneohe, who joined Alcain with her 5-year-old daughter and a 5-year-old friend, noted that the kids, who usually lose interest in a movie, were riveted to the screen. "They were just sitting there watching," Sakamoto said.

And the kids all seemed to get the movie's message.

"Ohana means family. Family means nobody gets left behind," recited Jaclyn Sakamoto, 5.

The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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