Stitch is a runaway alien creature who finds a home and family in Hawaii.

‘Stitch’ DVD
shows off isle culture

The success of 'Stitch' prompts a new production company

Storybook ending

"Lilo & Stitch," to be released on DVD and video tomorrow, priced at $29.99 (DVD) and $24.99 (video). Running time: 85 minutes. DVD includes bonus features.

By Tim Ryan

Disney's animated hit "Lilo & Stitch" will be released on DVD and video tomorrow with fanfare nearly approaching its theatrical debut last June in Los Angeles and Honolulu.

For the first time, Disney will include a lavish location promotion with a DVD release, showcasing Hawaii through cultural information, music and a hula lesson.

"DisneyPedia: Hawaii," in the bonus section of the DVD, is a 15-minute tour of Hawaii with photos, plus narration by Tia Carrere, the voice of lead character Nani in the animated film set on Kauai.

Hawaii is further represented on the DVD in the "The Young Voices of Hawaii" section, featuring the Kamehameha Children's Chorus' two songs from the film, "Hawaiian Roller Coaster Ride" and "He Mele No Lilo."

Even if it's snowing on the mainland, viewers will also learn "How to Hula" with kumu hula Mark Keali'i Ho'omalu, who wrote the Hawaiian songs for the film. "Animating the Hula" is a featurette showing how filmmakers researched the hula, and includes a look at a Hawaiian hula school in a mix of live-action footage and animation. The DVD also contains scenes that didn't make the film's final cut.

Entry forms in the DVD and video packages include a chance to win 25 trips to Hawaii.

The DVD inserts are the result of a deal struck earlier this year between the Hawaii Visitors & Convention Bureau and Disney.

HVCB officials met with Disney executives last spring to discuss the DVD's Hawaii "chapter" and spent several days viewing stock footage and photographs depicting Hawaii's history and culture, said Gail Ann Chew, HVCB's vice president of strategic partnerships. "They already had an idea and a script in progress, but they very much wanted our input."

The county visitor bureaus were allowed to review the material about their islands, Chew said.

"HVCB's goal for the DisneyPedia (chapter) was to work with Disney to ensure what was put on the DVD was accurate and high-quality footage that showcased Hawaii," she said. "Ultimately it's a Disney product and they had final approval."

HVCB officials have not yet seen the completed DVD.

A Hawaiian Holiday Sweeps, and ABC radio and Disney Channel national promotions are being held for the DVD release. On Thursday, Disney will run a story on its Disney auction Web site, disneyauction. com, that features a story on Hawaii's four counties.

Several executives from Buena Vista Home Entertainment International, a Disney subsidiary, and "Lilo & Stitch" writers and directors Chris Sanders and Dean Dublois will be in Hawaii this month with nearly two dozen foreign entertainment writers from Europe and Asia for the DVD release promotion, which includes tours of Oahu and the Big Island. The writers, who will be here next Monday to Dec. 14, will participate in surfing and lei-making activities and attend a luau. Sanders and Dublois plan to visit the Kamehameha Children's Chorus and film some interviews for a Collector's Edition DVD to be released next year.

"Lilo & Stitch," which already has grossed about $240 million worldwide, opens in Japan in March, and a Japanese film crew will also be here Dec. 19 to 23 along with the Japanese actress who provides Nani's voice for a TV special about "Lilo and Stitch" and Hawaii, Chew said.

"We see 'Lilo & Stitch' as a franchise to last a very long time," said a Disney executive who requested anonymity. "We believe in the product and so do audiences."

In its Nov. 8-10 issue, the Hollywood Reporter carried a wrap-around cover paid for by Disney, asking the Academy of Arts and Sciences members to consider "Lilo & Stitch" for an Oscar in the "Best Animated Feature" category of the Academy Awards. At any rate, it may have to compete with other Disney fare such as "Spirited Away" and "Treasure Planet."

IN CASE YOU missed "Lilo & Stitch's" big-screen debut, it tells the story of an independent-minded little Hawaiian girl named Lilo (voiced by Daveigh Chase) who plays Elvis Presley records and causes mischief for her older sister and guardian, Nani. When no-nonsense social worker Cobra Bubbles (Ving Rhames) threatens to separate Lilo and Nani, the sisters try to get their act together.

Their lives are turned upside down, however, when Stitch arrives in Hawaii. Actually a mischief-making creature from another planet who is known as "Experiment 626," Stitch is on the run from his creator, the mad alien scientist Jumba (David Ogden Stiers).

Stitch finds his way to an animal shelter, and Lilo adopts him, thinking he's just an ugly, unwanted dog. Prone to antisocial tendencies, Stitch makes a hilarious mess of Lilo and Nani's home life.

Soon, however, Stitch learns that the Hawaiian concept of ohana, or family, even applies to runaway aliens.

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