Chris Sanders

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Chris Sanders
Chris Sanders, Golden Globes 2014 (crop).jpg
Chris Sanders at the 2014 Golden Globe Awards
Born Christopher Michael Sanders
(1962-03-12) March 12, 1962 (age 54)[1]
Colorado Springs, Colorado, United States[1]
Other names Christopher Sanders
Occupation Director, illustrator, voice actor
Years active 1984–present
Known for Directing/writing Lilo & Stitch and How to Train Your Dragon; creating and voicing Stitch
Notable work Lilo & Stitch
How to Train Your Dragon
The Croods
Spouse(s) Jessica Steele-Sanders
Chris Sanders signature.png

Christopher Michael "Chris" Sanders (born March 12, 1962) is an American animation director, illustrator and voice actor. He is best known for co-writing and directing the Disney animated feature film Lilo & Stitch (2002) and DreamWorks Animation's How to Train Your Dragon (2010), both of which he co-wrote and co-directed with Dean DeBlois, and for creating and voicing Stitch in Lilo & Stitch and almost every work in its franchise. His recent work was serving as director and co-writer on The Croods, along with Kirk DeMicco.

Early life[edit]

Sanders was born in Colorado Springs, Colorado. He went to Arvada High School in Arvada, Colorado. He is a 1984 graduate of the California Institute of the Arts.



Sanders began his career as a character designer for Muppet Babies. He soon became the head storyboard artist for Walt Disney Feature Animation. He also served as a storyboard artist, artistic director, production designer, and character designer on Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, The Lion King, and Mulan.

In 1985, Sanders created a character named "Stitch" for an unsuccessful children's book pitch.[2] When Sanders was the head storyboard artist for Disney Feature Animation, then-Disney CEO Michael Eisner decided that, in the wake of a number of high-profile and large-budget Disney animated features during the mid-1990s, the studio might try its hand at a smaller and less expensive film.[2] Chris Sanders was approached by Thomas Schumacher to pitch that idea, and Sanders reused the "Stitch" character he came up with.[3] The story line required a remote, non-urban location, so Sanders chose Kauaʻi as the location.[4] Stitch became the central character of the 2002 film Lilo & Stitch, which Sanders co-directed and co-wrote with Dean DeBlois. Sanders would also end up voicing the character he created for the film. The film's commercial and critical success spawned a franchise with three sequel films and two television series, with Sanders reprising his role of Stitch throughout most of the franchise (only being replaced by Benjamin Diskin for the English dub of the anime Stitch!).

By December 2006, Sanders had been removed as the director of the upcoming Disney animated film American Dog by John Lasseter. By March 2007, Sanders had been negotiating his exit from Disney.[5] After the departure of Sanders from Disney, directing duties were handed to Chris Williams and Byron Howard, and the film was retitled Bolt. Despite his departure from Disney, Sanders continues to voice Stitch in most official Disney media.

DreamWorks Animation[edit]

By March 2007, Sanders had moved to DreamWorks Animation and had then taken over as director on Crood Awakening (later renamed to The Croods), a project previously in co-production with Aardman Animations before their departure from DreamWorks.[6] At the time, Chris had this to say about the move: "I've been so anxious to start working on things, and so I talked to a lot of people... I like the way DreamWorks looks at animation. Animation still has a lot of different places to go, and I don't want to miss out on a chance to try some new things with it."[6]

On September 24, 2008, it was reported that Sanders and DeBlois would be screenwriting and directing How to Train Your Dragon for DreamWorks Animation.[7] The film was released on March 26, 2010 and was well received by critics. It grossed nearly $500 million worldwide. It was nominated for the Academy Award for Best Animated Feature and Best Original Score at the 83rd Academy Awards. The movie also won ten Annie Awards, including Best Animated Feature.

After completing How to Train Your Dragon, Chris returned to The Croods, which was released on March 22, 2013.[8] Sanders shared directing and writing credits with Kirk DeMicco, who had joined in the middle of production. The film proved to be a success, grossing over $500 million.[9] Sanders and DeMicco then worked on The Croods sequel for three and a half years, before its cancellation in late 2016.[9][10]

Sanders also draws the popular webcomic Kiskaloo.

Personal life[edit]

Sanders is married to Jessica Steele-Sanders.[11] Together, they wrote an illustrated novel, titled Rescue Sirens: The Search for the Atavist (2015).[11]


Year Title Role Notes
1984 Muppet Babies Character Designer
1990 The Rescuers Down Under Storyboard Artist/Character Designer/Visual Development
1991 Beauty and the Beast Story/Visual Development Artist
1992 Aladdin Story
1994 The Lion King Story/Production Designer/Storyboard Artist For Mufasa's Ghost sequence[12]
1998 Mulan Little Brother Screenplay/Story Supervisor
1999 Fantasia 2000 Original Concept: "Pines of Rome"
2002 Lilo & Stitch Stitch Director/Writer/Character Designer
2003 Stitch! The Movie Stitch Characters
Lilo & Stitch: The Series Stitch, Experiment 627 Characters
2004 The Lion King 1½ Stitch Cameo Appearance
2005 Lilo & Stitch 2: Stitch Has a Glitch Stitch Characters
Kingdom Hearts II Stitch Video Game
2006 Leroy & Stitch Stitch, Leroy Characters
2007 Kingdom Hearts II: Final Mix+ Stitch Video Game
2008 Disney Think Fast Stitch Video Game
2010 Kingdom Hearts: Birth by Sleep Stitch Video Game
How to Train Your Dragon Director/Screenplay
2011 Kinect Disneyland Adventures Stitch Video Game
2013 Disney Magical World Stitch Video Game
The Croods Belt Director/Screenplay
2014 Disney Infinity: Marvel Super Heroes Stitch Video game
Penguins of Madagascar Antarctic Penguin Characters
How to Train Your Dragon 2 Executive Producer
2015 Disney Infinity 3.0 Stitch Video game[13]
2018 How to Train Your Dragon 3[14][15] Executive Producer


  1. ^ a b "One on One Spotlight: Directors Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois". CTN animation eXpo. Archived from the original on November 8, 2010. Retrieved December 31, 2011. 
  2. ^ a b The Story Room: The Making of 'Lilo & Stitch' (DVD). Burbank, CA: Walt Disney Home Entertainment. 2005. 
  3. ^ Osmond, Andrew (December 31, 2002). "Lilo & Stitch Revisited: Part I". Animation World Network. AWN, Inc. Retrieved June 25, 2016. 
  4. ^ Davis, Pat (April–May 2002). "Disney Goes Hawaiian". Hana Hou!. 5 (2). 
  5. ^ M. Holson, Laura (March 4, 2007). "He Runs That Mickey Mouse Outift". New York Times. Retrieved September 24, 2012. 
  6. ^ a b Fritz, Ben (March 27, 2007). "Sanders joins DreamWorks". Variety. 
  7. ^ Amidi, Amid (September 25, 2008). "UPDATE: Chris Sanders Still Crood and Directing Dragon". Cartoon Brew. Retrieved March 5, 2012. 
  8. ^ Finke, Nikki (September 9, 2012). "DreamWorks Animation's Release Schedule". Deadline. Retrieved April 30, 2013. 
  9. ^ a b "The Croods 2 in the Works at DreamWorks Animation". April 17, 2013. Retrieved April 17, 2013. 
  10. ^ Rainey, James (November 11, 2016). "DreamWorks Animation and Universal Kill 'Croods 2' (EXCLUSIVE)". Variety. Retrieved November 12, 2016. 
  11. ^ a b Flores, Terry (August 7, 2015). "Animation Writer-Directer Chris Sanders Co-Writes Mermaid Book 'Rescue Sirens'". Variety. Retrieved August 7, 2015. 
  12. ^ Shirey, Eric (September 28, 2011). "Producer Don Hahn Shares His Experiences Working on 'The Lion King'". Yahoo! Voices. Archived from the original on May 14, 2012. Retrieved April 30, 2013. 
  13. ^ Avalanche Software. Disney Infinity 3.0. Scene: Closing credits, 5:39 in, Featuring the Voice Talents of. 
  14. ^ DreamWorks Animation (September 9, 2012). "New Distributor Twentieth Century Fox Unveils DreamWorks Animation's Release Slate Through 2016". PR Newswire. Retrieved October 5, 2014. DeBlois and Chris Sanders (The Croods, How to Train Your Dragon) are serving as executive producers. 
  15. ^ "How to Train Your Dragon 3 Pushed Back to 2017". Retrieved September 2, 2014. 

External links[edit]