It has been part of our culture as children that we often turn to storytelling to make sense of the world around us and explore our emotions. Fairy tales, in particular, have long been a part of this tradition, offering moral lessons and helping us understand complex concepts through metaphor and allegory.

However, while many of these children’s stories were originally intended for a younger audience, they have also been adapted into more mature, dark-themed movies that explore deeper and more complex themes.

There have been discussions on the suitability of these children’s stories-based dark-themed movies for younger audiences. Real Research, an online survey app, attempted to gather opinions about the matter through a survey on turning children’s stories into dark-themed movies.


  •  Most (19.42%) are aware of Cinderella (1697) story turned into a dark-themed movie.
  • The majority (26.29%) advised introducing dark-themed movies to children five years old and below.
  • 36.2% say children’s stories-based dark-themed movies are a safe means of introducing various topics for discussion.

53.18% Have Watched Some Children’s Stories-based Dark-themed Movies

While some (24.94%) know that some movies are dark-themed adaptations of their most beloved children’s stories, others (13.5%) have only heard about them. The rest (8.38%) are unaware there are children’s stories-based dark-themed movies.

The Turning of Children’s Stories Into Dark-themed Movies

From the list of children’s stories turned into dark-themed movies, most of the survey respondents (19.42%) are aware of Cinderella (1697). Others have heard of Hansel and Gretel from 1812 (10.86%), The Chronicles of Narnia during the 1950s (9.2%), and Snow White from 1854 (8.33%).

Figure 1 Children’s stories adapted into dark-themed movies
Figure 1: Children’s stories adapted into dark-themed movies

There are several ways that children’s stories were adapted into dark-themed movies. Survey respondents (38.6%) have observed that most of these stories were turned dark by adding elements or plot points that make them more mature or complex.

Others have spotted added adult imagery (25.41%) and mature and complex characters (20.47%). In comparison, some have noticed deeper psychological or philosophical themes (14.42%).

Read Also: Public Preference for Disney Characters

Introducing Children’s Stories-based Dark-themed Movies to Young Audiences

Some children’s stories adapted into dark or violent movies may not be suitable for all children due to the maturity and complexity of the content.

However, most (32.62%) still see it as highly appropriate for children to watch such movies, and 23.37% see it as somewhat appropriate. Meanwhile, 23.55% remain neutral, and the rest (20.46%) find it inappropriate for children to watch children’s stories-based dark-themed movies.

Figure 2 Age to be introduced to children's stories-based dark-themed movies
Figure 2: Age to be introduced to children’s stories-based dark-themed movies

It is generally recommended that children’s stories-based dark-themed movies be introduced to children at an age when they can understand and process the themes and ideas presented in the movie.

When the survey asked at what specific age these dark-themed movies be introduced, the majority (26.29%) said at five years old and below. Others voted for older ages, such as 6-7 y/o (17.52%), 8-9 y/o (15.91%), and 10-11 y/o (10.26%).

Meanwhile, the rest chose teenage years from 12-13 y/o (8.4%), 14-15 y/o (8.95%), and 16-17 y/o (4.18%). A distinct 8.49% said it should be for adults 18 years old and above.

Benefits to Children Watching

Watching children’s stories that have dark themes can be beneficial for children in a number of ways. 36.2% of respondents cited it as a safe way of introducing various topics for discussion.

Others called it a safe means of spreading awareness (23.99%), evoking deeper emotions (15.78%), and exploring the causes and consequences of the “dark” concepts (7.58%).

Figure 3 Benefits to children of watching children's stories-based dark-themed movies
Figure 3: Benefits to children of watching children’s stories-based dark-themed movies

It is usually up to the parents to decide if a particular movie is appropriate for their child and to provide guidance and support as needed.

Accordingly, 46.83% believe parental guidance should be required for children watching children’s stories-based dark-themed movies. 36.01% think it should probably be required, while 11.58% think it should probably not be required.

51.13% Support Turning Children’s Stories Into Dark-themed Movies

Regardless of the reasons behind the popularity of children’s stories-based dark-themed movies, it’s clear that these movies have struck a chord with audiences.

However, 48.87% of survey respondents oppose turning children’s stories into dark-themed movies.


Survey TitleSurvey on Turning Children’s Stories Into Dark-themed Movies
DurationDecember 27, 2022 – January 03, 2023
Number of Participants10,000
DemographicsMales and females, aged 21 to 99
Participating Countries Afghanistan, Algeria, Angola, Argentina, Armenia, Australia, Azerbaijan, Bahrain, Bangladesh, Belarus, Benin, Bolivia, Brazil, Brunei, Bulgaria, Burkina Faso, Cambodia, Cameroon, Canada, Chile, China, China (Hong Kong) China (Macao), China (Taiwan), Colombia, Costa Rica, Croatia, Czech Republic, Ecuador, Egypt, El Salvador, Ethiopia, Finland, France, Gambia, Georgia, Germany, Ghana, Greece, Greanada, Guatemala, Honduras, Hungary, India, Indonesia, Iraq, Ireland, Israel, Italy, Ivory Coast, Japan, Jordan, Kenya, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Latvia, Lebanon, Libya, Lithuania, Malaysia, Maldives, Maluritania, Mexico, Moldova, Mongolia, Morocco, Mozambique, Myanmar [Burma], Namibia, Nepal, Nicaragua, Nigeria, Oman, Pakistan, Palestine, Panama, Peru, Philippines, Poland, Portugal, Qatar, Romania, Russia, Saudi Arabia, Serbia, Sierra Leone, Singapore, Slovakia, South Africa, South Korea, Spain, Sri Lanka, Tanzania, Thailand, Togo, Tunisia, Turkey, Turkmenistan, Uganda, Ukraine, United Arab Emirates, United Kingdom, United States, Uruguay, Uzbekistan, Venezuela, Vietnam, Yemen, Zimbabwe.