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As 2023 comes to a close, there is a glaring omission staring at families with young children: the lack of any G-rated films. Even the recently released Paw Patrol movie is rated PG. The show is rated TV-Y on Nickelodeon which is aimed at ages 2 to 6. The previous Paw Patrol movie was released in 2021 with a G-rating. According to, G-rated movies have been steadily declining. In 1968, there were 181 G-rated movies listed. In 2022, there were only 3 feature-length films and none in 2023. Betsy Bozdech, editorial director of Common Sense Media, told Fox News that the lack of G-rated films makes making recommendations to families of young children extremely difficult. “We seem to say, ‘Oh, it’s fine. They have all the preschool shows on the streaming services or on PBS, and they’ll be fine.’ And I mean, yes, there’s no shortage of great content for little kids on those platforms, but it would be really nice to have more in theaters that families could go to,” she said. 

Reporting in 2019, Variety’s Rebecca Keegan lamented that the G-rating had been “kiddified” to the point where major studios, other than Disney, were actively avoiding it. “Studios are deliberately gearing family films toward PG ratings, which marketers have determined are less likely to alienate the teens and tweens whose tastes drive much of the box office,” she wrote. She noted this had not always been the case, with movies like “Star Trek” and the Barbara Streisand-helmed film, “What’s Up, Doc?” having been rated G in previous decades. She also pointed out that 1994’s massively successful “The Lion King” was G-rated, while its live-action remake, released in 2019, was rated PG, as had all the other live-action remakes been to date. Jason Squire, professor of cinematic practice at USC, stated it was distributors driving the change. “It’s the distributors who have driven this, not the ratings board. The studios prefer the PG-13 rating [over G] because it protects them. ‘Parents strongly cautioned’: It shifts the burden of determining what’s acceptable to the parent.”

The New York Times’s Alexis Soloski lamented the lack of family-friendly options in theaters. She recalled the nostalgic experience of moviegoing with her own mother and wanting to share that experience with her own children. That experience, however, has been fairly rare. “Our moviegoing has been sporadic. Most months, there’s nothing we want to see in theaters. We’re not alone.” She cited a post by Screen Crush’s Matt Singer, which said, “As a parent of little kids, it would be great if there was literally *any* movie in theaters right now I could take them to,” he wrote. “Like maybe one reason theaters are having a hard time is there are zero films for parents to take their kids to. Just give me one thing that doesn’t have cocaine bears or Ghostfaces!” Soloski noted that Singer’s main choices at the time of the post were “Shazam! Fury of the Gods” and “Puss in Boots: The Last Wish,” which focuses on the main protagonist’s fear of death. 

She also noted the lack of original content being released, with most films being released being sequels or remakes. She also stated that the overreliance on animation and CGI has affected the industry as well. “Since the turn of the millennium, there has been a related move away from live-action theatrical family films and toward animation. What live action there is, as in the case of Disney’s high-grossing remakes, often relies on so many computer-generated effects that it doesn’t seem live at all.” She stated the habit of taking children to the movies now was essential to the movie industry continuing in the future. “No one has to go to the movies anymore. Wait a month or two or six, and you can see these same films from the comfort of your couch. And quality may not even matter absolutely. Certainly, there are days — rainy or too hot — when the temptation of a climate-controlled seat and Raisinets suffices, no matter the movie on offer. But if we want movie theaters to survive, that will mean building the moviegoing habit in children, which means giving them an experience, beyond the candy counter, that keeps them coming back.”

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